People don’t really say “Made In China” as if it’s a bad thing anymore. The ones that do are misinformed.
I just finished my Regulation of FinTech class at the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Law School. I came in expecting to get answers or a comprehensive legal framework on, well, FinTech, but came out with some answers, and a lot more things to think about. The title above is just one of those questions.
It does not require a lot of digging to confirm that China has gotten better and bigger at innovation in the past few years, though I admit that’d been under my nose for some time. Alibaba, for instance, is bigger than its Western counterpart, Amazon, in several ways. Just see:
And it’s not just Alibaba. Chinese companies like Haier is taking a huge lead in IoT:
One could go on. But the point is not the what but the how.
This wasn’t an easy question to answer in class when it was raised, and even my Chinese classmates could not point to a single reason. They can attest, however, to how they grew up with these innovations happening right before their eyes.
I don’t pretend to offer an answer, but I’ve come across two articles that attempt to give an informed explanation on this. Some people would say these are speculations, but at least it starts a conversation that doesn’t seem to be happening right now. (Or at least not that I’m aware of.)
This article, Do China’s Technology Titans Encourage Innovation, Or Do They Stifle It? says that the rapid pace of innovation can be attributed to the major land grab phase China is undergoing, which at some point will mature and reach a plateau. Another one, China Is Innovating Faster Than You Imagine, attributes innovation in China to Darwinian competition, leaving competitors no choice but to innovate or die.
Of course the hope behind all this intellectual speculation is to deduct a model, a principle, a theory of some sort–just about anything–that developing countries can hold on to and hopefully emulate.
Or perhaps that’s precisely what developing countries like the Philippines need to let go of: the idea that theories gleaned from other contexts are worth replicating. Maybe we just need to look inwards at our strengths–which is an admittedly incredibly and almost impossibly optimistic thing to say. But that’s a different story altogether.