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Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 16:04 GMT
Pirated Chinese maps confuse tourists
Man watching pirate video
Videos are among the pirated goods readily available in China
By Duncan Hewitt in Shanghai

Any city can be confusing to first-time visitors.

But according to a newspaper in Guangzhou city, new arrivals in this sprawling southern metropolis face an added obstacle in finding their way around.

Local media say many visitors are experiencing serious problems finding their way around the city because almost all the available maps are pirated versions filled with factual errors.

The report comes amid a major campaign by Chinese authorities to crack down on fake and pirated products which have become so commonplace.

The state media have declared pirated goods a major public hazard.

Fakes

The Guangzhou Daily quoted local officials as saying that of an estimated one million street maps on sale at roadside newspaper stalls, only 200 are genuine - a ratio of one in 5,000.

pirate harry potter books
Pirated copies of Harry Potter books have been found
The others, it said, are illegally copied pirate versions, many of them with serious mistakes.

Versions of the latest 2001 tourist map, for example, feature a major road which doesn't actually exist, while many other streets are missing.

Newspaper sellers prefer the pirated maps because the wholesale price is lower.

Gangs on watch

One official map publisher said its sales have fallen from two million a year to just 100,000 last year.

Since the start of this year, the company has sold just 200 wholesale copies.

Pirated goods
The pirated goods industry is very profitable
Many of the customers may be the pirates themselves.

The Guangzhou Daily said the gangs involved keep a close watch on official map shops, buying up large numbers of copies as soon as a new product is published.

However, the paper quoted one map editor as warning that Guangzhou, like many Chinese cities, is expanding so fast that even the official maps are not complete.

The publishers simply cannot keep pace with all the latest streets and new areas.

Local police last month raided one printer of pirated maps, but producers of fake products in China have proved highly resilient to official suppression.

Last week, the Chinese government announced that since October, it has seized and destroyed various types of fake products worth more than $600m, a figure thought to be a tiny fraction of the total currently on the market.

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See also:

28 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese porn trader jailed for life
23 Feb 01 | Media reports
Pirate Chinese TV defies state
25 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
China clamp on net music sales
02 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
China targets net pirates
27 Aug 98 | Asia-Pacific
Beijing's war on video piracy
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