Chinese innovation – paper tiger or king of the hill?
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September 14th, 2011
08:00 AM ET

Chinese innovation – paper tiger or king of the hill?

Editor's Note: John Kao, dubbed "Mr. Creativity" by The Economist, is the chairman for the institute of large scale innovation and author of Innovation Nation. You can follow John on TwitterFacebook and at This post is the third of six pieces by John about his recent trip to China. The first post was China as an innovation nationCheck back each morning this week at 8am for the next installment.

By John Kao – Special to CNN

Two narratives are in play these days with regard to China’s innovation future. They could not be more polar opposite. One is openly dismissive of China, while the other sees a massive threat from the East on a scale that makes the Japan of the 1980’s seem like a tea party. The truth as always lies somewhere in between. But there is value in deconstructing these current perceptions because the future of China is definitely in play, and with it the world’s response.

Perhaps the most obvious example of narrative #1 is a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal, titled Chinese Innovation, A Paper Tiger. It argues that China’s innovation prowess has been misleadingly marked up because of the number of patents it has filed. The authors, respected management academics, contend that the quality of those patents is low, more related to incremental improvement than groundbreaking innovation and therefore, China is not an innovation force to be reckoned with.

While this may be an argument for teaching logic in business schools, it is typical of a more general thesis - that the Chinese are imitators, that they will always remain “downstream” from us who are the “upstream” wellspring of world-changing innovation. The “paper tiger” reference itself suggests a kind of pejorative payback, in that it was originally used by Mao Zedong to describe America’s lack of military will during the Korean war era.

Read post #1: China as an innovation nation.

Others who want to dismiss Chinese innovation with broad brush, negative strokes accuse the Chinese of attempting to win by cheating, citing ongoing issues with piracy and counterfeiting, or the perception of self-serving national innovation policies.

Finally there are those who feel that Chinese innovation is not relevant because the wheels are likely come off the Chinese economic juggernaut over time for many reasons, including: corruption, bad accounting practices, real estate bubbles and a social payment overhang of massive proportions.

The potential for upping the vitriol ante is disturbingly large, and does not lack for proponents. For example, Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia recently introduced retaliatory legislation that effectively prohibits the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and NASA from any scientific collaboration with China, specifically any funding effort "to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company." This is one reason why OSTP - the U.S. lead in the innovation dialogue with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology - was not along for our study tour. If the Chinese had questions about our fiscal policies, think how they must now begin to wonder about our politics.

So where does this leave us? As mentioned earlier, the truth is somewhere in the middle. China is not the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms that is poised to eat our (and everyone else’s) lunch. But they are richly endowed with innovation assets and their portfolio of investments are likely to pay off, which clearly makes them a force to be reckoned with.

What are these assets? First, and at an actuarial level, China’s massive population creates the world’s largest talent base. If you believe in the golden bee-bee theory of creativity (for example, that one out of a million people is a genius), then China has approximately 1,400 of such big brains. Capital? China has tons. Also, pent-up consumer demand and a high savings rate will support the development of an ocean of new businesses. National will? No one who visits China can miss the zeal with which national development is being pursued and the kind of hunger for knowledge that leads to business and social advancement.

Read post #2: Why is innovation so important to China?

Venture capital? Absolutely. While venture investing tracked at a respectable $5.4 billion in 2010, its growth rate is described as being “second to none” by Lux Research. And the ranks of business angels and entrepreneurs, though admittedly not many in the all-important serial entrepreneurs categories, is growing rapidly.

In terms of a national strategy for innovation, China definitely has one, and is iterating on it to realize continuous improvement. Innovation is clearly featured as a national priority in the 12th 5-year economic plan. More importantly, they have a cadre of leaders who get it, are responsible for it and are doing it. Innovation stewardship? Check. Infrastructure? Massive investment is pouring into science, technology, institutions of higher education, broadband etc. And perhaps most importantly, China has a national vision that the innovation drive is linked to.

Of course, there are significant liabilities on China’s innovation balance sheet and a good number of significant potholes on her path to becoming an innovation powerhouse. Three are worth mentioning in particular.

Pothole #1 is the Chinese tendency to think vertically from an organizational perspective. That is to say the person on top gets wide latitude to call the shots, whether they are the CEO, the professor or the domain expert. Part of the subtext of the periodic suppression of dissent in China, in my view, is because it is culturally dissonant and disrespectful to oppose the authority of one’s elders. I’m not justifying the Chinese position, but rather pointing out the challenges to the kind of innovation that largely comes from the edges and bottoms of organizations, and does not necessarily run parallel to a status hierarchy.

Related to this pothole is the overweighting of Chinese education towards neo-Confucian rote learning and “respect the teacher, learn the content” style of pedagogy. This shapes a culture that avoids risk and prefers incrementalism based on known business models rather than disruptive innovations that represent a leap into the unknown.

Pothole #2 is the tendency to rely on a centrally planned and top down approach to innovation. The Chinese approach to motivating innovation by linking benefits to the production of scientific papers and patents for example may be of some practical utility. But it also speaks to a nostalgia for an industrial model of productivity made up of objective inputs and outputs, metrics, and transform algorithms that fly in the face of much of what we know of as disruptive innovation, which can be inherently inefficient, nonlinear and on the edge.

Pothole #3 relates to ethical standards. The world will not accord China the full credibility it deserves until issues of reliable accounting, scientific honesty, and effective policing of intellectual property theft are addressed. The ethical issue inevitably leads to a perception of self dealing, and will be used by Congressman Wolf and others of his persuasion to justify the kind of retaliatory, zero-sum thinking that could lead to what one might call an innovation war. I will deal with that scenario as well as the potential for China-U.S. innovation collaboration in my fifth post of this series.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of John Kao.

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Topics: China • Innovation

soundoff (236 Responses)
  1. That'snottrue:[

    CNN, this is your 3rd article on this.....jeez, people are beinged paid way to much to do too little aka fear mongering, no wonder the state's falling apart...

    September 14, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Reply
  2. wangdong

    China isn't an innovator, they're not willing to innovate. Name something China has given the world in the modern age... nothing... A more accurate assessment of China is that they are a paper Hyena, they wait for the U.S. and other modern countries to innovate, watch the true innovative nations spend billions of dollars on research and development, wait for that product to hit the market, spend pennies on the dollar to reverse engineer it then use it's massive cheap labor force and inferior materials to mass produce it and sell it cheaply back to the original innovators. China is a paper hyena, they wait for the US to make the kill then come in and eat the carcass.... People keep wondering why a communist Government has been able to thrive and succeed in a modern age when most others have fallen to the way side because it simply is not an efficient ethical way to govern a society... It's because we keep feeding the beast... The only way to end this threat, which i truly believe that country is a threat to the world because it cares so little for other societies and the enviroment let alone it's own people... is to stop feeding it... stop doing business with them... isolate them... starve out their regime... Otherwise the world will be dealing with a tyrannical society as a superpower ala the Soviet Union..... way to go backwards world."haha as a chinese the only thing i can say is "haha"

    September 14, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Reply
    • USA

      In modern history, how many countries can be considered as "innovative"?

      September 14, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Reply
      • Dave836

        US is actually still pretty innovative. It's just that new inventions aren't praised as new and unique as much as they were a couple decades ago.

        September 15, 2011 at 2:31 am |
    • That'snotTrue:[

      You're living in the past, how can the US innovate with a failed educational system, you are an example.

      September 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  3. Chinese guy

    China chose the right "business model" decades ago. Its called – reverse engineering. Why invent new things when 1.3 billion people's potential can be used to make cheaper products? It was the right choice of strategy for short term (30-50 years). But make no mistake, when China becomes #1 economy, we will change "the business model for the country" from reverse engineering to pure innovation.
    As more and more Chinese ppl become wealthier and prosperous, cheap jobs will be outsourced to other countries (maybe even to US:) ), and innovation will be the main driver of our economy.

    September 14, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  4. Wang Dong

    The U.S.A. needs to take responsibility for itself and not try to be the policeman of the world. We need to improve our education system back to the point that it is at least one of the top systems in the world, if not the best; we need to provide business with incentives and protections to innovate and produce; we need to cut back the level of taxation and simplify the form of taxation on individuals and business; and at the same time provide protections for the environment and the people. Poisoning our own nest or that of others is not an option. Passing on onerous debt to our grandchildren is not an option. Using our men and women in the military as mercenaries to protect the interests of the oil industry is not an option; they are to be used to provide security for OUR Country. Politics and partisanship as usual is not an option. As one of the Founders stated, "We need to hang together; otherwise we shall hang separately."

    September 14, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  5. Wang Dong


    September 14, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Reply
  6. Wang Dong

    我看啊 这帮老外也是民族主义情绪太高涨 大概也是受刺激太多了 就是看中国不爽吧

    September 14, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Reply
    • USA


      September 14, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Reply
    • USA

      其实只有少数国家算是innovative, 包括日本。

      September 14, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Reply
      • USA

        为什么会这样呢?这是 我们中国人应该好好探讨的问题。

        September 14, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
      • USA

        Why is that?

        September 14, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  7. Wang Dong

    0其实也可以理解 老外这么激动有他自己的原因 现在欧洲那边也出事了 希腊那么大点小国 出了危及自己不能解决就想求助于法国德国 结果人家出于自己的利益考虑也不管 欧盟啊也是土崩瓦解 面临经济危机 就是大难临头各自飞 英国更不用说了 失业率那么高 搞得大家只往街上扔石头 美国呢 天天骂中国 结果还赖着中国的债不还 脸咋就这么大呢。。。。。。。各位帝国主义老兄 意识事态的时代已经过去了 再骂中国的时候先看看自己 要hold住啊 哈哈哈哈哈哈

    September 14, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Reply
    • That'snotTrue:[

      SO TRUE!!!!!!!

      September 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  8. ken

    China is too regulated to foster innovation. The government clamps down on people and that will restrict what they can really accomplish. The US has entered the same phase! Obama's regulators are stifling innovation. Our schools have so many stupid rules that US kids are now stupid compared to the rest of the world! So China and the US will both fail unless someone wakes up and realizes people only innovate when they are free. Liberals can't handle that! Communists can't handle that!

    September 14, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Reply
    • That'snotTrue:[

      Your education's failing big time, it'll take years or decades to fix that before you can innovate, name calling proves your limited intelect and you're living in the 1950s.

      September 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  9. bc19202000

    In 1980s, China couldn't produce TV, recorder, washing machine, very low production of car, plane or ship; now, most those are from China .... thats what china has done in a very very short of time, it is amazing ..... No matter how creative you are, you can jump from stone age to modern world right away, you need to master what already exist, then go beyond that. China finished that step in a flash, considering how behind it is after WWII, you just have to give it to China.

    As for if China can produce new ideas, we just have to watch and see ... but if USA just sits still, if education in USA doesnt catch up, if best americans all just want to be lawyers, CEOs or physicians (with all respects, those are not jobs that "creative"), someone will pass us very soon, China or not.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Reply
  10. Wenshan67

    Using a little bit brain, and you would not think Chinese are just immitators. Simply put, to be innovative means being smart. You think Chinese are not smart?

    September 14, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Reply
  11. david ph

    It is silly to even discuss. China can never be an innovative country. One reason above all: There is no respect to IP. Any innovative idea will be plundered by companies and individuals in China in a heart beat, so much so that inventing will make you puke.

    September 15, 2011 at 12:16 am | Reply
  12. Piaofu

    There is no stopping China from becoming the greatest and richest economy by 2030. This is not only because Chinese people have intelligent genes in them. Chinese tradition and culture encourages prudence. Wars is the last thing in their minds. Because wars are a waste of money and disrupts what they are good at – trading. Money was used in China a long time before the Europeans know anything about economics.

    The worst thing any American or European do for thei economy ill is put the blame China, – instead of admitting their own inability to manage their country's finances – or money properly.

    An Republican President hopeful who is stirring up Americans resentment for China, by vomitting ridiculous insinuations and accusations against China – is simply barking on the wrong tree. And he would not make a good President because USA needs China more than China needs America by 2030.

    September 15, 2011 at 12:33 am | Reply
    • Fido

      Sad reality is that it scores political brownie points to blame China. What human would blame themselves?

      September 15, 2011 at 3:59 am | Reply
  13. Piaofu

    What for the American culture when USA is almost on the brink of insolvency? Better not follow American culture too. Chinese Confucious teaching the important culture of prudenceI think is better. Americans should learn not to shoot from the hips all the time, because they will shoot their own foot !

    September 15, 2011 at 12:42 am | Reply
  14. Roy

    Why innovate, when you can copy and make money the easy way? Also, it's ingrained in the Chinese culture. From young, children are taught that they have to study hard to make sure they make a lot of money so they as well as their family can prosper. In the chinese language, there are a lot of proverbs and sayings regarding wealth and prosperity. And according to chinese culture, prosperity is having lots of money(and grandchildren). In a communistic society, conformation is seen as the norm and innovation is just asking for trouble. Heck, you can even get jailed in China just thinking different and having your own opinion!

    September 15, 2011 at 1:38 am | Reply
    • Susan

      Well, I think right now China is not innovating much, and it's because the country is in the process of catching up with the rest of the advanced world. It's naturally that a person who's been lagging behind should first of all catch up and copy, imitate. But one day, when the person is at about the same level, he or she will want to figure out something new. Such a day will come soon after China becomes more developed. China's danger is not in its ability to develop or innovate. Its danger is in its corrupted officials and injustice which might cause social disruption or even war. If they don't have any war in the next 20 years, they'll develop well into advanced arena and will start innovation. As to people wanting to get rich, don't Americans do that just as much? By the way, nowadays, an average Chinese doesn't have as many children or grandchildren as an average American. So there's really nothing particular about Chinese wanting to get rich. I think Americans are just as guilty in that sense.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:27 am | Reply
    • chingsoonyew

      So why are you complaining, now that your country is in great debts? You are now actually complaining that you and your country have no money. Just plain jealousy. Something wrong with your brains isn't it. Smart people have enough money, Not stupid ones.

      October 13, 2011 at 2:01 am | Reply
  15. Scarletvenus

    Being a Chinese high school student, I am in a good position to say a few words 😀 Firstly I agree that the Chinese culture really promotes obedience and conformism. That is partly due to our long history of feudalism during which people could only survive and prosper by complying with the rules set by the authorities. This kind of fear and respect for the "legitimate" is still prevalent in modern China where people are not allowed to question anything. For example in our history lessons we are only required to memorize the textbook content (pro-communism and pro-government) and simply write it down in tests in order to get high marks. We do not write essays, do not express our views and are discouraged from thinking critically. I guess the Chinese government does so to purposely make the younger generations unaware of the crimes it has done and hence ensure "stability", which means the interests of the communist party is not harmed. Many of my peers do not even know the Tiananmen Square protests. Many of them even think that China's victory in World War II was primarily due to the efforts of the Communist Army, as stated in China's history textbook. As a result, Chinese students' thoughts are severely limited and they rarely develop their own ideas. They only need to memorize the textbook to get into the top universities in China. However China is a rapidly changing nation. The younger generations are becoming more and more liberal in thoughts and are increasingly "Westernized". I can safely say that at least 80 percent of those born after 1980s in China like countries such as USA UK Germany and France. They like to mock the Chinese government and satirize China as the "heaven dynasty". I believe as China reforms its education system (political system if possible) and releases the pent-up innovative potential in Chinese students, China will truly become an innovative country in hopefully 20-50 years to come, considering the huge talent pool.

    September 15, 2011 at 1:45 am | Reply
  16. Susan

    It was China who invented paper, gunpowder, compass and printing. When US was no where to be found, China was one of the most powerful civilizations in human history. Before the Americans start to look down on China, read some history first. Without the fresh blood of talents from immigrants from all over the world, US is doomed to be less than nothing. Don't ever forget that! America is great not because its people are smarter or better than other people, but because it has believed in God (for a while). Now the people of this country are leaving God behind. It looks like It's going to go down one of these days if we don't repent soon.

    September 15, 2011 at 2:19 am | Reply
    • Dave836

      What a stupid post...

      September 15, 2011 at 2:29 am | Reply
      • Susan

        You can be called stupid as well. Name calling doesn't say anything really.

        September 15, 2011 at 2:43 am |
      • Piaofu

        Dave while your cavemen ancestors were eating with their bare hands thousands of years ago, the Chinese were already using chopsticks. Just one example.

        Oh, when you drink tea, remember China. Tea was discovered in 2737 BC, by China.

        September 15, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Roy

      You're taking it way too far back. You can also might as well say the Arabs were superior because they invented algreba and today's numeric system, but look at their people and their region now.The world 2000 years ago wasn't the same as today, same for China. The China today is a communist state, not ruled by feudal lords. And how China is being run now, you just can't have innovation, it's simply a paradox of communism. Now Chinese individuals who are brought up or educated overseas are different altogether though. But then again we're talking about China as a country, not its people. So while chinese people, like every other people, can defintely innovate, China itself as controlled by a communist government, isn't for innovation for the simple fact that they do not tolerate alternative thinking, and that is one of the core prerequisites for innovation.

      September 15, 2011 at 4:31 am | Reply
      • chingsoonyew

        you seem to think that USA's (u stupid ass) position remains static. As you have just quoted about the past great civilizations, its your country's turn to go downhill. Slumber on. Its somebody else turn.

        October 13, 2011 at 2:08 am |
    • Piaofu

      May I add that China also invented its own language and writing. And the way ancient chinese characters were formed or formulated suggested the practical aspect and nature of the Chinese mentality

      September 15, 2011 at 10:24 am | Reply
  17. Dave836

    China isn't innovative at all...
    One of the big reasons for this is because in the Eastern learning system, Professors are seen as always being right – they are never questioned and it is frowned upon for a younger person to question them. This prevents progress in research and, as a result, in new technology.

    This is also why you see a lot of people from the East going to college in the US – they know exactly how bad their learning system is.

    September 15, 2011 at 2:28 am | Reply
    • Claes

      Exactly, that perfect mix between reverence for the knowledge of professors and the will to best them is essential for success. Bowing and looking in the floor as if you stand in front of a Duke who might decide to lop your head off if he feels like it isn't going to cut it. I see that all the time, being a university professor myself. Some of them come out of it, but it takes a process to get there.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:30 am | Reply
  18. kihe

    two tigers rival for the first position!

    September 15, 2011 at 2:28 am | Reply
    • sultanhossain

      the post you have posted i agree with you..But china is becoming popular and increase their production rapidly..they dont care about challenges.I got more info about this discussion on this site lets see what we will get extra advantage from this one, thanks all.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:46 am | Reply
  19. RockSolid

    American like all 'powers in demise' are disillusioned and bamboozled by the strong economic progress by China. They can't get in their head that their days are over and it is time of China. I have an advise for Americans, get all of your forces from all over the world to USA and try to think what you are going to do in future.

    September 15, 2011 at 2:46 am | Reply
  20. Susan

    No one, not the envious US, could stop China from advancing. It's only China itself will bring ruins to itself, if it doesn't improve on human rights and other social affairs, to make it more balanced for all people in the country. It must do everything possible to keep peace, no wars, no military conflicts. That's the key to China's success. As to the rest of world, they'll just have to face the fact that China has paid its due to its bad luck for a long time, and it's about time for it to be revived again. Americans, read some Chinese history. China had been a very powerful and prosperous country way before US was established.

    September 15, 2011 at 2:49 am | Reply
    • Mike Houston

      The U.S. is not envious of China. I suspect it is just the reverse in a number of ways. And whatever "dues" China has
      paid for its "bad luck" is not relevant. China's bad luck seems to be that she shoots herself in the foot at very inopportune times. I hope she doesn't do it again but I suspect that she will. The only "innovations" that will mean anything in China are: (1)that powergrubbing CCP quits micromanaging all aspects of Chinese life, and (2) the establishment of an independent judiciary/legal system that is truly fair and transparent. I don't see that happening.

      Unfortunately, China is NOT a paper tiger. And I suspect that when the rest of the world finally tries to pressure
      China into fair trading and labor practices we'll see sabre rattling that matches the Cuban Missile crisis in severity.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:49 am | Reply
  21. Russiapride

    US estimated that China has around 400 warhead to 2000...but that's only an estimate...they never disclose it..
    US has around 10,000...Russia has just about little lower than the US in number...
    With all the increasing number of illegal immigrants and the increasing number of black on white crimes, america will collapse on its own.

    September 15, 2011 at 5:21 am | Reply
    • Mike Houston

      Greed and money may drive innovation in a place like Russia but that is not true in the
      rest of the world (the noncommunist part of the world, anyway). Illegal immigration or
      "black on white" crime won't cause the collapse of the U. S. either. And you're flat wrong
      about that,anyway. If anything is sadly laughable it's your "Russiapride" racism.

      September 15, 2011 at 6:06 am | Reply
      • USA

        Moral corrosion is what bringing down America; it starts with silent killing of babies daily and dishonesties in wall streets.

        September 15, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  22. Jacob Chu

    I think china is not paper tiger, china is influence country and will be top country in the world. But china now is a copy guy. They can copy anything from the world, from big thing to small thing. innovation of china is copy ability.

    September 15, 2011 at 5:29 am | Reply
  23. TheMan

    Did you guys NOT read ' the hym of the Tiger mom' ? China does not make innovators, it makes soldiers and imitators. That, unfortunately, is enough to win a war...

    September 15, 2011 at 5:32 am | Reply
  24. Russiapride

    Greed and money drives innovation. As long as the innovator gets their share, they will innovate. All these stupid arguments about no freedom or democracy, no innovation are laughable ..if that's the case, South America should be as innovative as the United States. And India should be the most innovative country in the world since they are the largest democracy.

    September 15, 2011 at 5:34 am | Reply
    • Roy

      Money, precisely. And copying is much,much easier to make money than innovating. It's essentially the mentality of the people there, they see no wrong in counterfeits, in fact, if you buy original and pay more for it, they laugh at you and call you a fool.

      September 15, 2011 at 6:15 am | Reply
  25. Russiapride

    America will collapse on its own with its increasing uneducated black population and illegal immigrants receiving free aids from the country. This country is divided. Multiculturalism works only if the immigrants are talented and educated. A bunch of fruitpickers coming to your country won't do you any good, but it seems like that's what America has nowadays. The black populations are also increasing, contributing to more crimes (statistically proven), terrorizing their own citizens. Affirmative action ensures more less qualified people becoming "qualified". 1.4trillion dollar spent on War on Terror for almost a decade while China trying hard to develop its economy. The high tech fields in the US are mostly consist of white and asian scientist...(a lot of the asian scientists here are also chinese descents). Before you start mumbling your wishful thinking about China, Americans should really look at themselves. The future trend is obvious, America is in decline. And with that, Russia is happy:)

    September 15, 2011 at 6:11 am | Reply
  26. Mike Houston

    "All these stupid arguments about no freedom or democracy, no innovation are laughable"
    Only to a Russian who may long for the return of governance of the Stalin sort...

    September 15, 2011 at 6:17 am | Reply
  27. rtmin

    All that china has is all of our money, along with a government that will do anything to get what it wants done regardless of the human or environmental cost. Just look at their recent bullet train debacle. China is only into one thing and that is China. No matter how much money they have and how many people live there it will always be a 2nd rate country and will never earn the respect of the world as long as they treat their people the way they do.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:36 am | Reply
    • USA

      Are you implying USA is 1st rate country? Sadly USA was but never more. Been travel around the country lately? Today, our food lines are almost as long as the greatwall of China. I don't enjoy writing this but this is the fact!

      September 15, 2011 at 8:47 am | Reply
      • Mike Houston

        That's not a fact. Its exaggeration to the point of being total nonsense. Like the nonsense Mao's propaganda
        ministers used to spew about factory production during his "great leap forward" fiasco...

        September 15, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  28. JustSayin

    Your final 3 points completely negated the rest of your argument. It may be better to say that China has the potential to be an innovative juggernaut, but certain elements of Chinese culture and politics make innovation very difficult or maybe even impossible. One more thing you might add to Pothole #3 (the ethical issues) is the Chinese tendency to cheat (or steal) to achieve a goal, particularly in education and in the area of intellectual property.

    September 15, 2011 at 7:01 am | Reply
    • chingsoonyew

      The USA cheated the original inhabitants of their land, put them in reservations and supplying them with intoxicating drinks to stupefy them into nonresistant folks, and also destroying these once proud people. USA also cheated the Hawaiian people of their land. USA is now actually occupying Hawaii illegally. So is Guam. So righteous USA march on with its hypocritical human issues. Try asking the blacks and Hispanics about fairness in USA.

      October 13, 2011 at 2:23 am | Reply
  29. cosmicsnoop

    The one and only relevant point seems to be missing. China is a communist dictatorship and, therefore, cannot rise to super power status as such. Until that government is overthrown by the people, they will only get so far. If the government is not changed or overthrown, they will eventually implode. The natural state of ALL people is to be free.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:10 am | Reply
    • USA

      In Chinese history, Chinese as a whole are happy only when they have strong loving kings and emperors; now is the time they do under CCP.
      I think I got many CNN, BBC, "brainwash" kids spinning their heads right now.

      September 15, 2011 at 8:57 am | Reply
      • True China

        Yea because Communist Party's mouthpieces such as People's Daily, Beijing Daily, Guangming Daily, Liberation Daily, Xinhua News Agency, China News Service and CCTV definitely DON'T try to brainwash you. If you want to see what really happens in China, try looking at the Epoch Times.

        September 15, 2011 at 10:11 am |
      • USA

        @True China
        I understand there are people unhappy with CCP like Falunggong/Epoch time, but as a whole, the majority once poor welcome CCP.

        September 15, 2011 at 10:28 am |
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