I guess it comes as no surprise in a world filled with cheap imitation designer-labeled clothing manufactured in China that Chinese companies are also counterfeiting ethical drugs. Like the poorly finished and imitation Louis Vuitton purses and handbags flooding the street vendors, these pills are poor facsimiles of the real thing.
When French customs seized one of the largest hauls ever for the European Union, the intended fake pharmaceuticals not only were intended to hurt EU citizens (many of the pills had no pharmaceutical value at all) but they also hurt the world’s view of the China brand. In fact, they reinforce the current brand and that is not a good thing.
It begs the question as to why it is in the long-term interests of China to put a stop to the disregarding of intellectual property and the view from the West (EU and North America) that “made in China” is not a valuable claim. Quite the reverse. The brand of China means questionable quality and serious doubt. In the case of the latest seizure of fake pharma, it also means harm.
Now, I am not claiming that the manufacture of these faux products is sanctioned or sponsored by the Chinese government. But I am saying that in a nation that regulates the number of children a family can birth with the harshest of penalties, you would think that if the Chinese government wanted to put a stop to the illicit trade in counterfeits it could do so.
From a brand perspective, it is very much in China’s interest to crack down on this sort of activity. This is because the power of a brand to persuade a belief or expectation is directly linked to how those that receive the brand perceive it. In other words, your brand is only as great as the customer gives it permission to be.
Right now, China, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, is looked at as a counterfeit haven. All the strides that the nation had made in graduating engineers and scientists and focusing on real innovation become less valuable to the world’s markets because of this perception.
Today, to China, this ignorance of closing its eyes to the burgeoning counterfeit market may seem like the cost of accelerating its economic growth. But, considering the very real strides China has made in the world of business, this is very short sighted.
If we are expected to view China as an equal, deserving of faith in its brand, China needs to grow up and prosecute anyone who hijacks and counterfeits anything — including intellectual property. This is in the brand’s long-term and short-term interest.