China Spends Billions of Dollars Copying Western Art and Architecture. Why? | Gish Jen

China Spends Billions of Dollars Copying Western Art and Architecture. Why? | Gish Jen


Well of course you know China and the U.S.
have very different ideas about intellectual property rights. About copying and things like that—imitation—very
foundationally things that in the U.S. are completely taboo. In China it might be wrong or maybe even not
legal, but they’re not taboo, right? And we can ask ourselves, “Well why is that? Why is building a building that looks just
like a chateau in France, you know, why do we not do that here in the West?” Why would we – we might do it, but it would
be in an amusement park. It would be something, you know, if you did
it, it’s tacky, right? It’s things in the West that are tacky,
in the East are considered fine. So, you know, you can have a very elaborate
copy of a French chateau. You can pour $50 million into it. You can use the exact stone that they used
in the original and have this copied every way perfect. And in China that’s seen as a great thing,
right? Like no one would say, “You’re kidding. You spent $50 million on this copy?!” In the U.S. we would never do that. And why is that? It’s because we have two different models
of self. Quite the contrary, you know, if they see
something which is great, they’ll say “Well I’ll do that too!” It’s homage. So things that to us, you know, you just don’t
do. To them it’s like, “Well, why not?”,
you know? They have a much more playful attitude, I
will say, toward these things. And this goes right down to the educational
level. I mean so the idea, you know, in our education
we’re very much trying to coax out of people, you know, their unique vision, right? You know in Asia the idea that actually there
are many great ideas kind of out there all around you in the culture—and that maybe
before you think about how you can put your own stamp on things maybe you should absorb
those ideas—it’s very important. And so in order to absorb those ideas, well
how do you do that? Often you imitate, right? So painters start, they find a great painter,
a painter with whom they feel simpatico and they copy those paintings. What are they doing? When we think of copying we think if it as
kind of a mechanical process. But actually they’re trying to internalize
the greatness of this painting. So to them it’s not a mechanical process;
it’s an organic process. They’re taking in this influence. Ultimately they want to add to the great tradition
that they are signed up for, and ultimately they want their contribution to be theirs
and to be singular, but they see that as coming after they have mastered their great tradition,
right? And mastering it through imitation, through
memorization is completely fine. And like I say, it’s a sign of homage. Now you can only imagine a culture where there
is this very longstanding tradition of education through imitation and through copying: You
can only imagine to take a tradition like that and to sort of say to this culture, “Well,
actually, every time you imitate something that’s actually taboo.” I mean, they get it intellectually. You can tell them, but very foundationally
that’s not who they are, and these are not ideas that they have had. It would be like telling us like every time
you pick up a spoon, “That spoon is copyrighted. You really should pay a little fee every time
you use that spoon.” They would just think: “well that is really
very strange,” right? So I think that when we look at these ideas
we see a very big foundational split between the two cultures. And really copying is only one of the many
areas where you see very divergent ideas.

98 thoughts on “China Spends Billions of Dollars Copying Western Art and Architecture. Why? | Gish Jen

  1. painters dont rip it straight off but took inspiration from other works. Whatever china does is just plagiarism lol

  2. Why? Here is the answer: GDP growth. CCP is desperate for it, they already sacrificed their environment for it…….

  3. China spends (wastes) billions of dollars propping up their failing, unsustainable economy (isn't it like… $4 spent for every $1 of growth now, which is VERY bad), which they destroyed their country, and most of Southeast Asia for.

  4. Its funny because a lot of the materials, especially technologically and digitally, used to create the "original" ideas… are made in China.

    I mean do you blame them for making a copy of iPhone (like Samsung, though I don't see the similarity people roar about), when the materials and raw components, were made in China?

    Just a thought. I'm too nonchalant about this right now to take a standing opinion. Just laughing at the irony.

  5. Doesn't matter. China will rule the world in the next few decades anyway. I'm already brushing up on my Mandarin.

  6. Pure spin. A copy is nothing more than a reproduction of what already exists. The copier is internalizing nothing more than their inability to create something new and original.

  7. The reason exact copying is taboo isn't because of a lack of acceptance of learning by copying, but because it shows ignorance.

    When you like something then create an exact copy, you haven asked yourself what aspects of it make it good, why its revered or talked about by others or even how you could make it better, the only thing you want from it is its reputation.

    This is a common trait of the wealthy and ignorant, its like buying and expensive brand of clothes, where most of what your paying for is the name.

  8. Painters (of all regions) have copied master works for centuries; an accepted means of training. The Chinese copying of industrial or commercial products hardly fits that paradigm. We can all see a copy of the Eiffel tower and acknowledge it as a copy (the original was a bit of a whimsy in the first place). Selling copies of network switches or pharmaceuticals for mercantile advantage is just wrong. Arguing about how we manage intellectual property and the cycles thereof is a separate discussion.

  9. Sure it had nothing to do with the Cultural Revolution destroying their own culture

  10. Like USA didnt do the same in Las Vegas… Nice Eiffel tower you got there! Culture and art are migrating like people are, they are shared and expanded between countries… Western culture has more luxury than Chinese (which is based on modesty and collectivism). Western culture is based on luxury and idividuality, the bases of capitalism. China is basicly capitalist but with communist government. So those new capitalists want luxury that will make them different from others hence the overtaking of Western culture. Also, if you want to make something better first you have to make it, then make it better. That is what China did, first they imitated products from arround the world and now they are creating their own products and becoming the greatest power in the world. Are they doing that with culture or the reason is something else? Chinese like European culture a lot, they come in large numbers to visit European sites. Maybe that's why China is building European sites in China, in a way rising internal turist numbers…

  11. China is awesome. Thats all i heard. What u just said shouldve been attributed to japan and not the only country a percent less worse than north korea. Brainwashed drone.

  12. Why are there so many Conservatives here on a largely Liberal channel? I'm unaffiliated and do everything I can to listen to both sides of the coin (and they are a part of the same coin), what's your guys' excuse? Because it seems like all we're doing here is talking shit.

  13. Me too. I copied and cheated through College… lol Seriously​, this is a very good video explaining the differences in culture. Another word to use would be "Modeling" or emulating success. I get it.

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  15. What's china known for? Slavery and cooking dogs alive? Maybe they should copy our way of life instead…

  16. China is copying everything from countries whose debt they own large amounts of so when those western nations fall, China inherits all their glory.

  17. This woman knows nothing about the US or the 'West'. Has she ever seen Las Vegas? Has she googled "American castles" and seen all the examples of westerners imitating something else. How about "American pagodas", you get 711,000 hits. If you as me, if you make a copy of something, it is much more interesting if it was made like the original, not just make to look like the original.

  18. Copying is not homage, Gish. If I film a shot-for-shot remake of '2001', I'm not giving homage to Kubrick; I'm ripping him off. He will still deserve all of the credit for the original, and I will deserve less than none for my copy. Homage is when you embed a reference of some kind to a work of another artist in your own original work.

  19. i would argue Chinese culture wants to be westernized, they are trying to become a modern nation and a modern nation needs a modern culture. by the way copying and imitating are different things, the Chinese in this situation are just straight up copying, while imitating a culture and absorbing those ideas and tweaking and changing them into something that's not wholly original but still different that can be used by your culture are quite different.

  20. Funny, the Chinese seemed to understand intellectual property when they controlled the secrets of silk production.

  21. bull shit. as an artist i get inspired by great painting but don't copy them. china is full pile of shit, why should they copy, they have there own 5000 year old culture and art. i wanna break this women's face.

  22. China is not the only country rebuilt these famous architecture. If you do some research, many countries did this too. It is not fair to say something like this.

  23. I think she's wrong about her comparison of china copying culture to a painter copying process. Learning is a very individual and creative process, you can't apply this concept to a nation like she' doing. Every work that China copies from the West are made from different chinese "artists" and without the original significative context. They made it without attachment to the original, because they simply don't fully understand it (it's history, historical meaning, aesthetics, cultural relation to them etc.). And the same applies even further to the people that didn't even engaged in the building of the copy. So the result is a work of art without any cultural significance to the people who made it. Very different then from the artist who copies to learn, because he's really attached to the work and will be able to build something new from it. China "artists" however, are not a single person and are not attached to the works, neither the people in it (that's important).

  24. In my experience of western education, there was no coaxing of any "unique vision".  Rather, the idea was to have the student reflect verbatim whatever they've been told.

  25. Unfortunately, at least in architecture, french chateaus are not copied as homage, but a very weird way to game the real estate market in China.
    the developer used to invest 50mil in a copy of French chateaus, so he can tell a story to the municipal government that he's going to create a "European culture centre" in the city and will raise the globalized feel of the city. and the local government in turn gives him discounted land for his real estate project (sometimes the local gov only needed it as an excuse to funnel kick backs through such "cultural projects")
    This is why you see in China a Renaissance European building surrounded by ugly residential blocks.
    I worked a decade in Chinese real estate, this trick was very popular in late 2010s.

  26. China doesn't only spend billions on copying Western art and architecture, they also copy technology, cars, planes, electronics and even whole companies and international brands/logos. Check out Alibaba, it's a 100% copy of Amazon, and now Alibaba is planning to offer CDN servers just like Amazon. This is not a homage, this scale of mimicking and copying everything is because of a total lack of creativity and individuality (thanks commies!).

  27. I don't mind good imitations. I hate shitty imitations, and desperate product selling schemes.

    Like "I-Phone" on a gas range. Or fake 2 Terabyte Hard-drives; really just tampered flash-drives in a weighted case.

  28. oh man "every time you pick up this spoon you have to pay for the copyright" is a western capitalist's wet dream.

  29. Because China wants to have a closed society where they steal as much as they can so they do not have to give to other places. They find ways to undercut others. Also their government is closed off and they want to keep it that way. It isn't playful. It is theft. They have an over population and a slave class. What the hell are you going on about? No one is talking about a damn spoon. They are talking about copying grand architecture and clearly ripping off an iPhone like you are a new york street hustler.

  30. This 'copying' culture has been going on for quite sometime. So it might become a bad and normal practice as someone is always copying some others. The cultural revolution has also ruined a whole or two generations of ppl, so when economic reforms started, the Chinese ppl become obsessed with gaining wealth.Copying others, especially famous places of interest, is one way to attract the Chinese tourists to them. As long as they can make money, they will use any method to achieve the aim. Having said that, the younger Chinese are getting more and more self confident,sophisticated and confident, so hopefully 10 years from now, they can innovate more and more of their own things and gain ppl respect.

  31. so would the be okay if we copy their stuff? and also why would it be ethical to profit from copying? that can not be reconciled by the confucian culture arguement

  32. Yes, Chinese copies are rubbish. And in Australia, Chinese copies of iconic furniture are legal. By slightly altering, or adding a mark is allowed. A copy from a distance may appear identical, but up close, the ideas reveal a shallow understanding of the overall design/designers intent and careful detailing. I am far more interested in the innovative and authentic design and technology Chinese designers/technologist will create in the future is now.

  33. yes it is strange to pay every time you pick up a spoon, but you know what else is stranger?
    Making a copy of that spoon, using lead, and flood the market with it.
    no one builds a brand ripoff because they "admire the original and want to contribute" that's bullshit.
    they do it because they are lazy and want to make money.

  34. You could never guess this woman race just by listening to her voice, she sounds like a very educated english person, you can tell she has higher than average IQ.

  35. is this woman a lawyer? if not she definitely should be. What a load of elaborate bullshit. I don't know why the Chinese copies but it's obvious she doesn't either. I think Americans try to be individuals is because they are mire artisitic and are creators. I know China has an enormous history of being creative and original but what happened? What gummed up their gears of creativity and originality? That is what I would like to know.

  36. No. "Imitating" others intellectual property that they spent resources and human capital on is stealing. It's not flattery. Invest your own god damn money and time coming up with new stuff. Don't copy ours.

  37. Let me ask one question: "If a typical person from china sees a copy of a French chateau, do they know it's a copy? Do they ask about the original?" – If the answer is NO, then I'll continue to have little to no respect for those copycats.

  38. coping is objectively an uncreative, uninspired action. Its not always wrong, but it will lead you no where as a creative person.

  39. The eiffel tower is special, because it's the eiffel tower. If you build your own, people see you ripping of the eiffel tower. Just building another doesn't make it special, it's being unique. To be able to create art, you have to be able to think freely. Something China isn't known for promoting.

  40. The entire argument is totally shit. If china wanted to do homage and not make quick bucks of it's populace and maybe tourists dumb enough to see such things then china would have some quality and shit quality is what china is well known for. Homage and stealing ideas are too different things. I know full well taking inspiration or copying great works as an artist, but plagiarizing and passing a below mediocre abomination as mine to make money would only do insult to the original on top of belittling myself

  41. The single one reason they copy art is to make money from it, which is contrary to internalise it for a greater purpose.

  42. I was just thinking this same thing few days ago, but about music.

    & how odd it is that we put strict copy rights on beats and lyrics.

  43. Of course it's tacky, Nothing illegal about it. Hell, Las Vegas has pyramids in it, it's tacky as hell, but it's not illegal, not should it be.

    If a country wants to make tacky structures what does it matter.

  44. a copy is a copy your mind fucking yourself. Stop copying are ideas and trying to void international patents china. fuck off get your own opinions and thoughts. oh wait sorry i forgot they censor that that in china shill off

  45. Here's the real reason: most people are not creative no matter where you go. People in the west just pretend to be creative by spilling out the garbage we call modern art.

  46. The thing is, Chinese were not copying anyone when they invented the compass, fireworks, paper or created Qin dynasty, world's first modern state in history (Fukuyama) etc. Also, at the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th century, US was copying a lot from UK and Europe, before they became world's no. 1 country .

  47. Taboo? Its strange yes, but China isn't unique in that department. The real story is how China is re-creating many cities throughout the world, are then left abandoned, becoming a ghost town. Destroying beautiful land to make way for so called art.

    They raised this ancient fishing village to re-create a Manhattan district which they thought would become a world renowned business centre. They abandoned it mid-construction, disgusting.

  48. The US doesn't spend $50 million copying French Chateaus? Has she been to any rich neighborhood? They are filled with them! In fact, most homes in every neighborhood are a copy of classic Euro styles.

    This woman is just flat wrong about her basic thesis.

  49. At 1:14 – she spoke of different models of self. I wish she elaborated specifically on that point.

    Second being able to copy requires having an original so how is that drive to be original developed? She wasn't completely clear about that.

    Third if the aim to copy is to inspire someone to develop something of their own, is imitation necessary? Why not visit or take a picture of it and then spend millions on the new item?

  50. F*** China and their 5000 yr history. It is not a history of valuing human life. Nor does China give a shit about the rest of the world except as a source of plunder.

  51. in a thousand years, when white people disappear, we're gonna look back and say, DAMN those whiteys were cool weren't they?

  52. All the hate in the comments is probably all from Americans.. You do know China will pass the rest of the world in every sector, right? Not creative my ass, humanity since the beginning has taken apart ideas, rebuilt and refined them. It wasn't until Capitalism gained full control did we start seeing people imprisoned for editing something to make it better or more efficient. Now in america your tech sector is an inflated bubble of incrementalism to milk the consumers for as much money as possible. Copyright, trademarks and patents are the death of creativity, not the foundation.

  53. The east. China copies everything, and you blame the entire east? Blame those Chinese MFs. Not the east. Chinese are a bunch of thieves

  54. Playful attitude? When China copies electronics and sells them its playful? Yeah it looks like the same on the outside and it says samsung while everything else on the inside is shit. China copies make up and the victims who buy it start getting blemishes and pimples on their faces all the while blaming it on Korea while reaping the profits, yeah, I bet they're laughing their asses off.

  55. Very dishonest answer. You know very well people aren't buying it. Substitute the word "taboo" for "stealing". It's one thing to learn by imitation and keeping it for yourself; it's another to make an exact copy of something (which most of the time is a cheap knockoff), passing it off as the original AND SELLING IT BY UNDERCUTTING THE PRICE for pure profit reasons, and pretending it's your own work.

  56. So many things that I want to say, are not very nice things. But, I'll say this… I don't care if it's not "TABOO" to them. I thought of the f**king idea, I executed the idea and invested time, money, and energy in getting the idea known. It's MY IDEA! But China's like "Oh, we like, we say it homage, and get rich off copy their idea!! AND SELL FOR CHEAP!" F**k you chinese copiers, f**k you.

  57. Why China will not lead the world. They will never make anything original if the guy next to you can copy it and make money why build anything. It is disgusting to me shows no character.

  58. When you copy it you destroy its value. So what are you going to sale the world. If nothing has value no one wants it.

  59. Imitation is seen as weak and submissive. I’d rather fail 9 times and find 1 idea that works and is innovative than copy someone else’s idea and always be thought of as an imitator.

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