Business and Technology in China (Understanding China Today)

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China is not a technology superpower. Stop treating it like one

Our Slack community is a place to learn, network, and opine. Monthly live conference calls with leading experts, free entry to SupChina live events in cities around the world, and more. I go to it, look for it daily. It adds so much insight into the real China. Essential news, culture, color. I find SupChina superior. Ambassador to China. OR… for more in-depth analysis and an online community of China-focused professionals:. Sure, China wants to lead in artificial intelligence and other technologies.

But when U.

The U. At worst, by ascribing technology superpowers to China, Washington risks an overreaction that could undermine U. And unlike the U. The first mistake many Western observers make is assuming that aspirational government policies drive Chinese private-sector innovation and not the other way around. The second is to think that government rhetoric is the same thing as a coherent and achievable strategy. Both mistakes stem from confusion about how innovation works in the real world.

Maybe never. Semiconductor manufacturing equipment? An alternative software stack for the cloud? Maybe for China, but not one that can compete globally. Enterprise software? The AIDP was out of date the moment it was published.

And while China has caught up in simpler technologies like solar cells or high-speed rail, showy investments in more advanced sectors like semiconductors have failed to catapult China past the West — despite favorable government subsidies and what could generously be called a lax attitude toward intellectual property protections. For Chinese technology companies, all this talk of tech dominance and self-sufficiency must seem odd.

Huawei, Alibaba, and the like historically have tended to do what makes the most business sense — developing or acquiring technologies where they perceive they have a competitive edge, while relying on Western firms to fill in the gaps necessary to compete in global markets. And here, supposed shortcuts such as illicitly acquiring technology do not constitute a viable business model and can only provide limited benefits without an innovative workforce, stable and adaptive management, and a realistic long-term business model and strategy. Are Chinese tech firms catching up and overtaking U.

Sure, just like Japanese, South Korean, and Taiwanese companies did during a previous era of technology development. Chinese firms probably also enjoy some unfair advantages over Western competitors. The irony is that U. That will be an expensive an inefficient process — and not just for China: a long-term technology rift would also put revenue of leading U. Beijing can talk up its desire for dominance and self-sufficiency all it wants.

China’s Five Surprises

Indeed, the more complex and interconnected and global the technology ecosystem, the less successful governments are likely to be in directing technology development. And in the case of Chinese global players, more government involvement is more likely to hinder their efforts to compete. Western policymakers should have more faith in the system that has gotten them this far; instead, they are acting as though China is feet tall.

By expanding the distribution of their products, some established companies are also catching multinationals off guard.

Over the past decade, we interviewed hundreds of executives, entrepreneurs, and investors in China and studied more than Chinese companies. Our goal was to understand how innovation is being practiced in China and how it is changing. We identified three types of Chinese innovators, each of which presents a different set of challenges for competitors.

We refer to them as hidden champions, tech underdogs, and change makers. Sign in , buy as a PDF or create an account. Steinfeld and T.

8 amazing facts to help you understand China today

See L. See H. This estimate comes from our discussions with executives in China, including one hosted by the Innovation Roundtable in Shanghai on Sept. As reported by SolarBe.

Chinese Views on the Importance of AI

According to leading news portals such as Caijing. In comparison, Tencent had million monthly active users in May and million in June See Internet Live Stats , accessed Oct. Prahalad and G. Jolly, B. McKern, and G. In contrast to hidden champions and tech underdogs, for whom the key distinguishing financial metric is revenue, the key metric for change makers, whose revenues fluctuate widely, is valuation. I am not entirely convinced though by some of the examples described:. Of course, it is not in English, but this should not be an issue, as many MNC have offices in China and therefore Chinese staff.