The cheap knock off swords are simply made from cheap mill steel which has been pattern welded.
Originally Posted by Aussi
The issue here is that there is no way to verify that it is indeed hand smelted steel. The only factory produced Chinese swords to use legitimate hand smelted steel (that I am aware of) are the Hanwei Paper Crane series, and the Dynasty Forge Daimao series - with a katana from either of these series costing around $2.5k.
Master Chen (of Zubeng Forge) also smelts his own steel on site, as he is unable to import Tamahagane from Japan and has found no suitable source of hand smelted steel in China.