They copy computers, cellphones, cameras, video players, watches, bags, and everything man-made—but did you know that the Chinese also copy entire combat airplanes? It's simple: They buy one and measure every part and system to clone it.
It's brutal reverse engineering but it works. In the past, they used to buy planes and designs from the Soviets. But now they go straight for the pirate copy, which has the Russians from Sukhoi fuming. The reason: They sell them at a lower price to any country that can't afford the real McCoy. Their quality is bad compared to the original, but good enough to fly and good enough that the countries—usually military dictatorships who just want to have a few flashy fighters—don't care.
This is the latest example: The Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark. They claim they created it all by themselves, but this carrier-based combat plane was copied and modified after reverse-engineering a Sukhoi Su-33 built to the Ukraine.
And here I was, thinking that Louis Vuitton had a problem. [Flight Global]