Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bicycle Theft

I found out that my friend in Chengdu just had her bicycle stolen yesterday. She rode her bike to school and after class, it was gone. It cost about RMB350 so it wasn't a very nice bike but it's still pretty expensive for a student on a budget.

Everyone I know in China that owned a bicycle has had one stolen. From the large number of stolen bikes, there must be a thriving market for stolen goods. I know there is one for cell phones; there are literally thousands of people selling "used" phones in Chengdu, right next to legit stores.

I think all this begins with RMB5 DVD's. On just about every street and alleyway, there are people selling pirate DVD's. You can find almost every movie, even those still in showing in theaters, and TV show for less than US$1. No one buys legit DVD's and people make fun of you if you do. This create a culture where intellectual property rights are pretty much ignored. This extends into the software market where piracy rates in China is something like >97%. Even businesses pirate Windows and Office software even though they can afford it.

The end result, I think, is a society that is less respectful for the rule of law. You see this with people ignoring traffic rules and no smoking/littering/spitting signs. This is reinforced by the zero-accountability communist government and it's rampant corruption problems. Everyone seems to be out making or stealing a buck, rules be damned.

Anyway, my friend has to go and buy a new bike since she needs it to get to school. I hope she didn't lose the gel seat cover I bought for her. That cost $30, which is almost as much as a new bike, or a really nice "used" bike.

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