Beijing razes tourist haunt; plans new one

Associated Press

Beijing, January 10:

China said today that rampant piracy spelled doom for Beijing’s famous Silk Street, an outdoor strip destroyed last week, and only legitimate wares will be sold at the New Silk Street market.

The 20-year-old pedestrian shopping street — known for its spirited haggling and imitation brand-name goods — was among Beijing’s most popular tourist destinations. It was bulldozed on Thursday.

“The old market was a source of intellectual property rights abuses, which the central government has pledged to treat with greater efforts,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing Yin Xiaobo, a senior official with the Chaoyang District government of Beijing.

The United States and other foreign governments have been pressuring China to stop rampant product piracy and enforce intellectual property rights as part of its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Public notices posted before the street was torn down did not mention copyright protection. They said only that Silk Street (Silk Alley) as it was also known, had to go because of fire safety issues.

A wide range of mostly pirated wares, including Prada fleeces, Louis Vuitton wallets, North Face jackets and Victoria’s Secret negligees, could be found in the 1,000 m thoroughfare.

“Phony designer clothes, shoes and bags, and factory rejects” will be banned in the indoor New Silk Street Market being built next door, Xinhua reported.