Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province, erected a new statue last month to mark the forthcoming Year of the Rooster. But it’s also a tribute to Donald Trump, the man set to become one of the year’s most controversial figures.
The three-metre sculpture of a cockerel with a golden quiff even imitates The Donald’s idiosyncratic hand gestures (see photo, above right). It wasn’t long before factories were producing replicas of the statue for sale online, with one producer from Zhejiang province making a 10-metre inflatable version that sells for as much as Rmb14,400 ($2,082). The hair is a different shade of gold, and the factory owner contends that there are some differences with the facial features, but the effect is mostly the same.
The original sculpture was designed by American artist Casey Latiolais and the unapproved imitations are being sold on Alibaba’s Taobao, an e-commerce site which has been criticised for not doing enough to prevent unauthorised merchants from selling counterfeit goods.
WiC doubts that any of this was mentioned when Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma met Trump last week in New York and pledged to create a million jobs in the US by helping American companies sell directly to China.
But Trump is perhaps more familiar with some of the other products inspired by his likeness that are available through Ma’s Taobao.
At a campaign rally in Florida last year, he spotted an audience member wearing a rubber mask of himself. “Oh well, it’s beautiful. Looks just like me,” he commended.
That mask likely originated in one of the many factories in China that have been churning out the new commander-in-chief’s visage during the last eight months – such as Zhejiang-based Jinhua Partytime Latex Art and Crafts, which claims to produce over 30% of the world’s plastic and rubber masks.
It began stockpiling Trump masks before June last year, shrewdly anticipating Trump’s win (it should have informed the pundits at CNN, the New York Times and virtually every polling firm).
According to TIME, another factory specialising in Trump gear in Shenzhen has sold 200,000 masks, and his signature quiff hairdo is available on Taobao as well.
Such wigs can be bought for as little as Rmb29.90, although that price may double if his administration follows through on its threat to impose tariffs. Perhaps the most telling of the Trump products that can be bought on Taobao, as Quartz notes, are versions of his campaign’s “Make America Great Again” caps, which sell on China’s leading e-commerce site for 50 US cents, as opposed to $25 from Trump’s official merchandise store.
The Trump campaign was resolute about the hats for their official campaign being 100% American. But the price difference between the two is a timely reminder of the heady challenges that American manufacturers – and their new cheerleader Trump – still face.
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