MAINLAND officials have seized and destroyed 20,000 pairs of counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses and 200,000 pieces of associated fake literature in Guangzhou. The haul was the result of two raids by the Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC), which was granted new powers on July 1 to crack down on counterfeiters. The fake sunglasses, which were destroyed by fire, had a combined retail value of seven million yuan (about HK$9.44 million at the official rate), illustrating the extent of the problem faced by manufacturer Bausch & Lomb in trying to sell the genuine article in China. ''The counterfeiters have seriously hampered our business development in China,'' said Kelly Yu, general manager of Bausch & Lomb (Hong Kong), who estimated his company had lost millions of US dollars over the past two years. Bausch & Lomb's problem has got worse over the past year as the counterfeiters have got better. Last year, the fakes were low quality, generally sold by street sellers for around 100 yuan, and quite easily distinguishable from the genuine article. Today, however, many of the counterfeit models flooding the China market look just like the real thing to the untrained eye. The biggest difference was the quality of the lens: the glass in the fakes did not filter ultra-violet light and quite easily shattered, said Mr Yu. The fakes were generally sold in respectable optical shops and wholesalers for not much less than real Ray-Ban prices to confuse punters even further, he said. Real Ray-Bans retail for about 400 yuan in China, while the quality fakes are sold for about 250 to 300 yuan. Bausch & Lomb and its team of private investigators have been working closely with the AIC on a series of joint actions to stamp out the production and sale of fake Ray-Bans in China. Together, they have carried out 12 raids this year in Guangzhou and Fujian, where the problem is most critical, seizing 38,000 pairs of fake Ray-Bans. Investigators have been at work in many of China's major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Harbin. Most fake Ray-Bans are thought to be manufactured in Fujian because of its close proximity to Taiwan. Poor quality sunglasses tend to be made from scratch in China, with tools imported from Taiwan, while better quality pairs are assembled in China using parts shipped over from Taiwan. The shift in technology to China has coincided with Taiwan's crackdown on counterfeiting, after years of turning a blind eye to trespass on foreign companies' intellectual property rights. Four manufacturers in Taiwan have so far been jailed for making fake Ray-Bans. China has now decided to get tough, but the AIC's limited resources can do little more than scratch the surface. Since July 1, it has been a criminal offence to make or handle fake products in China.