Usually we are upset when a product we buy turns out to be counterfeit or “fake”. We may also think of counterfeit money, counterfeit birth certificates, and counterfeit licenses. And those living in the West are often aghast at the thought of counterfeit anything.
One day I was traveling in China, a doctor came up to me and breezily announced to me “your book, the bible in the newborn nutrition world has been counterfeited.” This book “Nutrition Requirements in Preterm Infants,” had been officially translated into Chinese and sold well in China. She announced the counterfeit of this translation so cheerfully, that at first I was quite surprised, but she followed quickly and said: “This is a great kind of recognition.” She explained, “People only counterfeit good things, and so this means that your book is now recognized as worthy of being counterfeited.”
In the next city, another doctor come up to me and just as excitedly actually showed me the counterfeit copy of the book. She asked me to autograph it. Which I did so. She emphasized; “It will now be available to many more people; so you should be happy! And yes! It shows it is a great book!”
When I reported this to my book publisher in America, his wan comment was: “I don’t know whether I should be laughing or crying.” I told him: “You should definitely laugh.” I explained the “logic” and he was at loss for words. His reaction was not related to royalties, since we had already given away the royalties anyway. It just seemed strange.
I must confess that when I was a child, my family actually had a counterfeit version of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which at that time was hugely expensive overseas. Indeed I learned a lot from that encyclopedia, of course, for which I am indeed grateful. We also had the Dorland’s Medical Dictionary in counterfeit form at home, even when I was a teenager. By the time I was in medical school, this famous dictionary was freely available in counterfeit form to all medical students on the campus.
Photo 1: A good counterfeit, ready for signature
I am not in favor of counterfeits, but the humor is there. I remember an interchange in Thailand between a Mandarin speaking shopper, and a seller whose native Chinese language was Swatow (Chaozhou). There is actually a great concern about fakes in Asia, so the buyer asked: Is this for real? (Zhen de ma?) The Chaozhou seller explained indignantly “Jia de, Jia de” which in the Mandarin would be: “This is false, false!” But in Chaozhou language it would be: “this is correct, correct” or “this is real, real”. So a “counterfeit” also could depend on the language.
There is a remark by renowned Asian theologian-evangelist Stephen Tong: the reason that there are so many copies and versions floating around about the Jesus faith, is He is so true that everybody wants to copy Him. People copy Rolexes and Pradas, because they are high quality and high reputation, but no one would counterfeit an inferior watch or inferior handbag – what would be the point of copying these other products?
亚洲著名的神学家/佈道家唐崇荣博士说过：世界上有许多关於耶稣信仰的冒牌货， 原因是耶稣太真实了，人们都想假冒祂。人会仿冒劳力士手錶及普拉达皮包，因为这些东西品质高，声望高，但没有人会去仿冒一个劣质的手錶或包包 – 理由是仿冒这些劣质品有什麽用价值呢？
At least counterfeits could prompt good intellectual discussions.
Photo 2: My book proudly counterfeited