The 10 Most Shameless Chinese Ripoffs of 2016

By Bridget O'Donnell, December 23, 2016

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201612/thats-year-review-logo-mini.pngFor many in the West, 2016 will be remembered for Trump, Brexit, terrorism in Europe and an absurd number of pop culture deaths, from Bowie to Muhammad Ali. By comparison, China had an unusually quiet year. Nonetheless, there were still a few goings-on in the world's most populous country.

In our 2016 Year in Review series, we recap the best (and worst) of China's year in the worlds of technology, social media, sport, fashion, food, arts and more.


China is notorious for its shanzhai (counterfeit) culture. We've counted down the worst Chinese ripoffs, fakes and knockoffs of 2016.

10. The fake Disney Hotel website

Fake Disney Hotel Website Scrapped After Exposé
With the opening of Shanghai Disneyland in June, crooks were keen to cash in on the Disney-fever. Among them was the group who created a fake Disney hotel websitem operating on the domain name disney-hotel-shanghai.cn. (The authentic one is shanghaidisneyresort.com). The fake website adopted a similar page design as the resort, with photos of Mickey Mouse and Disney castles.

9. The World Trade Center look-alike in Hangzhou

World Trade Center Ripoff In Hangzhou? Designers Say No
Recently, development firm Shimao Property unveiled its plans to construct a new set of skyscrapers in Hangzhou. But some have accused the Zhejiang Gate Towers as copying the same design of the Twin Towers that once stood above New York City.

8. Sandwich, the Subway ripoff in Beijing

We Ate at Subway's New Copycat, Sandwich
Call us crazy, but when a new restaurant smells like Subway and looks like Subway, we presume it's a Subway. Turns out we're wrong. Allow us to introduce Sandwich, a very convincing Subway copycat a mere five-minutes’ walk away from an actual Subway in Beijing. Check out our review of Subway Sandwich here.

7. The ripoff sculpture in Shanghai

UK Artist Shocked to Find Copy of Sculpture in Shanghai
London-based sculptor Wendy Taylor CBE was shocked to find a ripoff of her 1973 work Timepiece, an image of a sundial, replicated on the banks of the Huangpu. After being alerted to the replica, Shanghai authorities in November announced the sculpture would be taken down.

6. Mad Max knockoff film Mad Shelia

China's 'Mad Max' Ripoff 'Mad Shelia' Starts Streaming Tomorrow
Mad Shelia (Chinese: 疯狂希莉娅), a film that started streaming on Tencent Video last month, looks a lot like a low-budget version of the Mad Max blockbuster franchise. And if you just can't get enough of the unoriginally original film, don't worry — there are at least two Mad Shelia sequels on the way.

5. The fake Burger & Lobster restaurant in Shanghai

There's a Fake Burger & Lobster Opening in Shanghai
Call the copyright police! Another shanzhai F&B concept was set to open in Shanghai back in August, and this time it was London'sBurger & Lobster to hold the dubious honor. The Shanghai version of the cult surf 'n' turf eatery appeared to copy the concept of the original to the letter, serving the exact same menu of grilled lobsters, lobster rolls or a burger. Heck, they even nabbed virtually identical illustrations for their marketing materials. The knockoff restaurant eventually suspended operations.

4. The Pentagon replica in Shanghai

WATCH: Shanzhai Pentagon Replica Built in Shanghai
In January, drone footage capturing a shanzhai Pentagon in suburban Shanghai went viral. The replica building, which is shaped just like the real headquarters of the US Military in Washington DC, is a massive a shopping center in Nanxiang Town out in Shanghai's Jiading District.

3. The fake BBC website

Fake BBC Site Owners Angry After Copycatting Exposed
A fake BBC website made headlines in April for blantantly ripping off a site visited by millions each day. The fake BBC stands for 'Business Broadcast of China,' which shares the same abbreviation with the British Broadcasting Corp. The site had a similar layout to the original BBC, including the same red header and a nearly identical homepage design. The site changed its layout and removed nearly all articles after the exposure, with the exception of nine pieces that lashed out at other media outlets for accusing them of copying the BBC.

2. The Hangzhou gastrolounge ripping off The Nest in Shanghai

Hangzhou Gastrolounge Shamelessly Copies The Nest
Popular Shanghai restaurant and lounge The Nest can now claim membership to knockoff club thanks to VC Gastro Lounge, a newly opened spot in Hangzhou that, er, borrows a few of its ideas. And it wasn't just The Nest's famous lighting sculpture ('Fly Beyond,' above, designed by Super Nature), they also went after the gastro lounge's sleek interiors, copying the lighting panels, sideboards and blonde wood color scheme.

1. Uncle Martian, the Uncle Armour knockoff

Uncle Martian Denies Blatantly Ripping Off Under Armour
A Chinese sports apparel brand raised eyebrows in May after its newly unveiled logo looked suspiciously like that of popular American brand Under Armour's. The bizarrely named 'Uncle Martian' was widely ridiculed after photos from its official launch event went viral online. Uncle Martian denied the allegations, saying: "Our brand has nothing to do with theirs at all."

(Dis)Honorable Mention

Fake Apple Store where anti-American protests happened

Jiangsu Protesters March to Apple Store, Go to Fake One
Unhappy with an international court's ruling on the South China Sea in July, protesters across China descended upon local chains of American brand name stores and calling for a boycott of their goods. In Jiangsu, dozens gathered outside a store that sold Apple products. Unfortunately for them, their protest was undermined by the fact that the store they chose to picket was actually a fake Apple Store.

The ripoff athletic brand that Michael Jordan won a trademark case against

Michael Jordan Wins Rights to Chinese Name in Trademark Case
China's Supreme People's Court ruled (mostly) in favor of Michael Jordan in a trademark case in December. His Airness first filed a claim against a Chinese company and the trademark authority in 2012, accusing Qiaodan Sports Co. Ltd of misusing his name and identity, particularly on its shoes that feature a logo remarkably similar to the Jumpman logo appearing on Air Jordans. 'Qiaodan' is a Chinese transliteration of the name Jordan.

The enormous Titanic replica being built in rural Sichuan

Enormous Titanic Replica Being Built in Rural China
A China-based construction company has broken ground on a full-scale Titanic replica. When construction is finished, guests will be able stay in a room on board, take part in period-correct parties and games and gorge on a banquet menu that looks exactly the same as it did more than a century ago — all for as low as RMB3,000.

Trump toilets

Chinese 'Trump Toilet' Brand Hopes the Donald Won't Sue
We have no doubt that the Trump name now features in a lot of bathrooms, scrawled on stall doors alongside some not very nice things and numbers one can call ‘for a good time.' However, in China, it's been a fixture for years — on Trump hi-tech toilets, that is. “We really didn’t know of this person called Trump, it was entirely a coincidence," said Zhong Jiye, the company's 40-year-old founder.

Fake Fan Bingbing

Fake Fan Bingbing on Reality Show Raises Eyebrows
A dead ringer for superstar actress Fan Bingbing drew eyeballs as well as frowns on Chinese social media in April. 22-year-old "Super Girl 2016" contestant He Chengxi has undergone a string of cosmetic surgeries over the course of eight years to be a doppleganger of the celebrity, who is widely accepted as the classic Chinese beauty.



For more 2016 Year in Review coverage, click here.

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