In less than 15 years China changed from a copy-cat factory floor of the world into a leading innovation platform, says former Baidu communication director Kaiser Kuo to India Today. When the perception of China as a copy-cat nation still persists, it is the time to change, he says.
In India, the impression that China can produce only cheap imitations is widespread. If anything, China’s story warns of the dangers of complacency in such assumptions. “I don’t think anyone would have foreseen 15 years ago that four of the 10 biggest internet companies would be Chinese,” says Kaiser Kuo, who worked with Baidu until 2016. Kuo says there is a misplaced perception that only China is blocking foreign competition to enable the rise of its giants. “Twitter was blocked in 2009, Google didn’t pull out until March 2010, but even by then these companies were far behind their competitors,” he says.
There are lessons from China’s digital economy that questionconventional wisdom on innovation, Kuo says. Even America’s story shows the importance of government in creating the right conditions. “The mythology of Silicon Valley forgetsthe extent to which defence department expenditures played a role. The internet is a primary example. The state has been smart in China in knowing when to get out of the way, in setting the tax policies, in encouraging recruitment, in putting in place the infrastructure and in bringing back the Chinese entrepreneurs.”…
It is clear that the rise of digital China is changing conventional wisdom on what it takes to innovate. As Kuo puts it, “Indians, like Americans, have this idea that freedom of expression is a necessary condition for innovation to happen. What’s dangerous is if you think it’s a sufficient condition to make people innovate.” China is rewriting the rulebook, and India will ignore this transformation at its peril.
Are you looking for more experts on China’s take on digital innovation at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.