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Online sale of lifelike masks evokes concern in China

People's Daily Online)  16:07, August 20, 2012

Online sale of lifelike masks evokes concern in China

"Is this the legendary disguising technique in wuxia fiction?” The sale of extremely realistic “human skin” masks on Taobao.com has provoked heated discussions among Chinese netizens, some of whom fear the masks may be used by criminals. “The ‘human skin’ masks have been on the market for a year, and are mostly used for entertainment. It is well within legal limits, so Taobao has no right to interfere,” a Taobao spokesperson said.

Although the shopkeepers have specified on the notes for buyers that these masks sold in their shops are only used for entertainment, parties, performances, film and television special effects and collections, not for any criminal activities. Otherwise, they must take the consequence. However, netizens are still worried about selling the masks on the Internet and some even asked how the police should do if the murderer wearing a mask commits a crime. Doesn't the online purchase of these masks provide an opportunity to the lawbreakers?

The reporter logged on to taobao.com and searched "human skin masks," and saw eight options, including "high-imitation human skin masks," "disguise using human skin masks " and "mask of a real person." Among them, three shops sell high-simulated human skin masks, priced at 500 yuan to 9,000 yuan, and the popular masks in one shop are not custom-made, but the appearance of an Asian middle-aged man. Three such masks have been sold within half a month.

One shop owner who claimed to be the originator of "human skin masks" told the reporter that these masks are made of imported medical silicone and have good elasticity. They are fit for various types of faces but it is very complex to produce them. In addition to fixed styles, customers also can spend 20,000 yuan to custom-make a mask by providing a photo of a person. When asked whether it needs to be agreed by the person, the shop owner said that it does not need any procedures. Customers only need to pay 50 percent down payment and email the photo to the manufacturer, they can get it one month later.

The reporter made a call to the public relations department of Taobao and was told that Taobao is very strict to the products sold on its website and it absolutely prohibits the sales of illegal goods. At present, the "human skin masks" are mainly used for entertainment and film and television production and they belong to legitimate sales, so Taobao cannot interfere to them. The photo can be processed so as to look more authentic.

The reporter also called Beijing's business administration department of Beijing and quality supervision hotline and was told that the sale of "human skin masks" is legitimate. These masks manufacturers are legitimate if they have a business licensing and these masks do not have a quality problem.

The Beijing police said, "It will make the case confused if criminals use a mask to commit crime. However, such cases have not yet occurred in Beijing, so we do not know what influence such cases will bring."

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(Editor:马茜、姚春)

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