Death-sentence for Xiangyang market arouses mixed
By Xie Fang
The news that Shanghai's famous -- or infamous
-- Xiangyang market is going to be shut down has generated a mix
While tourists and locals who have enjoyed bargaining in the open
market said they were disappointed, the news is a boon for those
whose intellectual property rights have been infringed upon by the
counterfeit products there.
Shanghai Vice-Mayor Zhou Taitong said at a meeting on Wednesday
that the city government has firmly decided to shut down the Xiangyang
Fashion and Gift Market, where -- alongside the sale of cheap genuine
goods -- a controversial business in counterfeit products has thrived
for a long time.
In an effort to protect intellectual property right and improve
the image of the city, government officials have said the open market
will be shut down rather than merely relocated this year. The closure
schedule has yet to be released.
An entirely new market will open in the Xuhui District.
Concerns have been raised by foreigners who love to bargain for
cheap goods at the market. They say worries about counterfeit products
have been exaggerated, since these can be found worldwide.
Spanish tourist Maria-Gracia Cavestany said: "They should not
close the market. The sale of fake goods happens everywhere in the
world -- in Spain and Italy for instance. No one worries about it."
Guy Angel, an Israeli businessman, also likes the market because
of its cheap prices.
"I am sorry to hear that this world-famous market will close
soon. People know what they are buying here. Even if goods are fake,
as long as the quality is good and the price is better than that
in department stores, I don't think it will damage the city's reputation."
Vendors appeared calm after learning the news, unlike the disappointed
One trader, who withheld his name, said: "I already knew the
market would close someday, according to our contract. As China
has gradually linked up with the world's latest fashions, more Chinese
brands will appear in the West. If we want to have our intellectual
property rights protected overseas we should also protect the Westerners'
He said he had been thinking about opening a small shop to sell
legal computer games after his contract expires May 15.
Another vendor surnamed Qiu said she learned the news from the media,
rather than being informed by authorities.
"I am not disappointed at all. Although on the surface a huge
number of people flow in every day and business seems to be booming,
the rent here is very high. The annual fee for a stall with a good
location tops 1 million yuan (US$123,000). It is not easy to work
under such tremendous pressure. I will find another cheaper place
to do business in the future," she added.
A shopkeeper surnamed Zhang has worked at the market for two years.
He was concerned that counte
rfeit goods would be found somewhere else
in the city after the closure of the market.
"You will eventually find a place to go if you want to buy
this kind of stuff. In my opinion, the biggest problem of the market
is not the sale of fake goods, it is the black sheep who gather
outside the market and attempt to sell foreigners counterfeit goods
from stores hidden in re
sidential areas. Typically, they charge
extremely high prices and they are aggressive."
Zhu Liankou, director of the New Shanghai International Centre Development
Co, which operates the market, said most ve
ndors have accepted the facts with equanimity
and he hasn't received a complaint so far.
"Because we signed contracts with traders for just six months
starting from November 15 last year,
they shouldn't be surprised about the closure of the market."
When asked why the market hadn't learnt from the Beijing Silk Market,
which is located indoors, he said: "The key point is we don't
have the access to the land."
Nongfan Zhu, IPR Subcommittee Chair of the American Chamber of Commerce
in Shanghai, gave a warm welcome to the move when he was told the
closure of the market on an early occasion.
He said US businesses in the Shanghai and Yangtze River Delta region
have long been concerned about the market where fake goods of well-known
American brands were on sale.
Along with other foreign business communities, they have been lobbying
the local government to shut down the market.
"It is quicker than we have expected," he added.
According to a local newspaper report, the land for the market was
leased to a Hong Kong company in 1996 and again in 1998. It was
the site for a key project on Huaihai Road, with the plan to build
five-star hotels, office buildings and residential apartments. However,
it had not been developed due to a shortage of funds so the temporary
market was set up in October 2000.
Coupled with flexible management and cheap goods, it has developed
dramatically. There are nearly 900 vendors in the market, and the
daily number of customers reaches 50,000, while the figure can reach
100,000 on weekends.
About 35 raids were conducted by the 668 members of the Shanghai
Industrial and Commercial Bureau Xuhui Branch during the first half
of last year. Up to 328 stalls suspected of selling counterfeit
products were targeted and more than 11,000 fake items were confiscated.