Recently it came to light that the Chinese Expo 2010 theme song was actually copied from a 1997 Japanese pop song. The whole thing is a big embarrassment not just for the organizers but also for the myriad of stars, including Jackie Chan, who starred in the video.
My favorite site for this story is China Smack. They have copies of the songs if you are interested in listening and comparing. Also entertaining are the sarcastic comments by Chinese netizens feigning an uproar and blaming the Japanese for plagiarizing the Chinese Expo theme song by using a time machine.
The whole situation is perfectly ironic. The Expo is considered a huge opportunity for China to highlight its incredible economic growth and to present itself as open for business to the world. But the fact that the country still permits extensive copying of everything from movies to software is a huge problem. It is sadly fitting to see that the issue of plagiarism has even come to contaminate the symbolic song of the nation’s largest symbolic business event to date. Hopefully this huge “loss of face” will spark some more systemic changes in this area.
To further prove the point, yesterday the New York Times ran a story about how the Chinese police are “cracking down” on pirated movies and music in preparation for the expo. But in reality, store owners are just temporarily moving those items to back rooms, which are still accessible to the public. This kind of “hide it under the bed so mom can’t see it” behavior seems to be right out of an adolescent’s playbook. In fact, on further consideration, it probably is.