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Top 10 Chinese Knockoffs

China's industrious electronics pirates are trying to beat Apple at its own game again by rushing out a copycat 4G iPhone before the real thing even hits the market. TIME takes a look at other Chinese fakes or shanzhai that look nearly as good as the real things

Full Story and Pictures after the Jump...

HiPhone and APhone A6 - Apple may have only one store in China in Beijing, with a Shanghai store set to open this summe but shanzhai iPhones have been a fixture in the country's bustling electronics markets for years. One of the earliest models, the HiPhone, which sold for as little as $100, had its share of problems, such as faulty construction and malfunctioning apps. "It's called the HiPhone, I think, because you'd have to be high to actually buy it," Wired associate editor Daniel Dumas wrote in an online review in December 2008. But iPhone clones have gotten better since then, with some startling innovations. The APhone A6, released last November, uses an iPhone interface to run Google's Android operating system. Next up is a 4G iPhone clone expect a solid copy on the streets of Shanghai any day now.

iPed - The iPads on sale at the Han City Fashion and Accessories Plaza, one of Shanghai's biggest shanzhai markets, sure look real. Upon closer inspection, however, one notices subtle differences. First, there's the screen size roughly 5 in. by 7 in., or a touch smaller than the real iPad. But that's forgivable, given the extras, including a USB port, built-in webcam and expandable memory slot none of which Steve Jobs' tablets have. And the price? About $140 (after some hard bargaining in passable Chinese). According to Timothy James Brown, editor of, a website devoted to China's knockoff industry, there are about 30 different iPad copycats on the market now, from Cynovo's C7 tablet to the creatively named iPed from Orphan Electronics. And for these producers, competition breeds innovation hence the added features. "Apple may say, 'Let's keep the webcam off the device until we get to the next iteration of the product,' " Brown says. "But the shanzhai doesn't have a vested interest to play the game that way."

Goojje - Google may be locking horns with Beijing, but the country's netizens still have Goojje. Launched in January around the same time Google threatened to leave the country over censorship rules and repeated cyberattacks, the maverick Goojje incorporates elements from the home pages of both Google and China's most popular search engine, Baidu. The logo, for instance, uses Google's font but Baidu's trademark paw print. Google, for one, is not amused. In February the company sent a cease-and-desist letter to Goojje, demanding that it stop using the trademarked logo. Goojje, however, has stood firm, and months later, the site is still up and running.

Nat Nat Shoes - China is awash with uninspired fashion copycats like "Avivas" and "Pama." More clever are the Nat Nat knockoffs of Converse high-top sneakers, which have a zipper around the sole, allowing the wearer to transition easily from city to beach by turning the shoe into a sandal. At $30 a pair, the Nat Nats are reasonably priced, but as always, the quality is questionable. According to a review on, the kicks were "flimsy and cheap feeling." High marks for inspiration, low marks for execution.

Shanzhai Street - In an effort to drum up business in Nanjing, a property developer took shanzhai to the next level in 2008, lining a street of storefronts with signs advertising knockoff Western chains, such as "KFG," "Pizza Huh," "Haagon Bozs" and "Bucksstar Coffee." The publicity stunt worked to a point. After images of what became known as "Shanzhai Street" went viral on the Web, authorities promptly shut the venture down.

China's White Houses - Beijing may not always have a rosy relationship with Washington, but Chinese architects have gone crazy for the city particularly its iconic symbols of power. Full-scale replicas of the U.S. Capitol building have been constructed in recent years in the nondescript midsize cities of Wuxi and Fuyang, while in Hangzhou, real estate tycoon Huang Qiaoling has constructed a mirror image of the White House, complete with his own Oval Office and portrait gallery of American Presidents, as well as miniature versions of the Washington Monument and Mount Rushmore. Huang's bizarre estate is now a tourist destination in 2002, then President George W. Bush paid a visit.

China's Next Top Model - Reality TV has been slow to hit China, but producers are taking their cues from the U.S. and Britain to make up for lost time. China now has its own versions of American Idol (Super Girl and Super Boy), Project Runway (the roughly translated Magical Talented Designers) and America's Next Top Model (obviously, China's Next Top Model). All have become massive hits, though it may be some time before China produces the next Kelly Clarkson or Christian Siriano. According to Chen Jun, an editor at the Chinese fashion magazine iLook, the contestants on Magical Talented Designers aren't, well, particularly magical or talented. "It's a copy show," he says. "You can see it's not very original."

Shanghai's World Expo Song - In the lead-up to Expo 2010 Shanghai, China lined up some of its biggest stars Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Yao Ming  to record a "We Are the World" style theme song titled "2010, Waiting for You." Shortly after it was released in April, however, netizens began commenting that the song's tune was strikingly similar to a 1997 ballad by Japanese singer Mayo Okamoto, "Stay the Way You Are." Expo organizers immediately suspended the use of the song — and then belatedly asked for permission to use the melody. Okamoto graciously granted the request.

China's Fine-Art Factory - Once a small village of 300 people in southern China, Dafen is now the center of the world's reproduction-art market, with factories of artists churning out tens of thousands of fake Picassos, Rembrandts, Van Goghs and Da Vincis each year. According to the state-run China Daily newspaper, the village (now a part of booming Shenzhen) accounts for 60% of the world's oil-painting market. Although the vast majority are reproductions, a burgeoning community of recent art graduates is also producing original works in Dafen. To encourage these artists, the local government built a $13 million museum in the village in 2007 and began offering some subsidized housing and residency rights.

Huanhai Landscape VA3 and Lifan 320 - In a luxury-car-obsessed country, the Beijing Auto Show attracts swarms of people each year to gawk at the most extravagant new Lamborghinis, Bugattis and stretch Range Rovers. But shanzhai cars also feature prominently. Take the Huanhai Landscape VA3, which appeared at this year's auto show. It's an almost exact replica of a Lexus RX SUV. And two years ago, Lifan introduced a carbon copy of a Mini Cooper, the only major difference being that it has four doors instead of two. That, and the price tag: the Lifan 320 retails for about $7,500 in China, roughly a third of a Mini Cooper's

Source Info: TIME