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Abstract

What is a “Chinese copy”? And why does China have a reputation as the quintessential “copycat culture,” where nimble knock-offs of virtually any article are in the daily news and respect for and protection of the intellectual property owned by others is widely perceived to be either weak or non-existent? Are copying and creativity diametrical opposites, two sides of the same coin, or unrelated to one other? Are wildly successful imitators uncreative? Does the charge that “the Chinese are the masters of copying” reflect something unique about China’s traditions and culture? Do China’s cultural traditions (particularly Confucianism) foster copying or suppress creativity? Is copying the works of others so embedded in Chinese culture that the copyists are totally unconcerned about the fact that what they are doing is copying? Or are they engaged in a new kind of innovation and social commentary?

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