SINGAPORE (July 10): There remains a popular idea that China is a nation of copycats, with stores full of fake goods created with ideas stolen from others. There is an element of truth in that, but ironically, this copycat mantra is itself copied and repeated ad nauseam by everyone, from the US president down to the man in the street. It is the same style of thinking that was applied to Japan in the 1960s, when the country had a reputation for cheap copies rather than innovative products.
This ill-informed perception of China is an exercise in ignorance, but more importantly, it blinds us to the vast R&D industry that underpins the country’s new economy. Chinese telecommunications manufacturer Huawei Technologies runs R&D centres in China that dwarf their counterparts in the US.
But it is not just research that poses a challenge. It is the new thinking that goes with the research. Three examples sum up the nature of the competition.