Friday, 12 February 2010

Fear of failure stifles Chinese innovation, for now

Posing the question "is today's China an innovative society" generated a flood of convincing and well-supported arguments. The responses ranged from "Yes, absolutely" to "Absolutely not."

The "naysayers" will admit that historically China was once the center of the scientific and innovative world.

For thousands of years, Chinese scholars were at the cutting edge of ingenuity. By the 16th century, however, China seemed to have run out of new ideas. The Middle Kingdom locked the doors, shuttered the windows and went into hibernation.

Fast-forward to the 21st century and the fruits of 30 years of reform and opening-up to the West, China is now the world's largest auto market, the world's No. 1 exporter, and is quickly overtaking Japan as the world's second largest economy. Surely this took innovation?

No, say the critics. China achieved its phenomenal success by essentially becoming the world's factory. Importing, licensing or copying technology, the critics say, does not make an innovative society. Entrepreneurial? Yes. Enterprising? Yes. Innovative? No.

Read more in The Global Times

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