January 10, 2015 by ...
This is part 1 of a multi-part post about how Beijing has created policies which promote and foster intellectual property (IP) theft. As such, IP infringing firms such as Xiaomi are
merely taking advantage of opportunities Beijing has provided them.
China, historical inability to create
China has been an innovation laggard for hundreds of years now. Try as they might, they just cannot create. Beijing is aware of this problem and has devised two plans to obtain/steal foreign know-how. These two plans- Project 863 and the ‘Science and Technology Plan’ were increasingly aggressive attempts at this goal. The establishment of both of these has fueled and enabled China’s desire and skill and pilfering foreign know-how. Firms such as Xiaomi have merely taken their cues from Beijing’s lead.
China considers itself an innovator. This belief stems from the fact that a few thousand years ago they created the ‘four great inventions’- compass, fireworks, paper making and printing. Ironically enough, even these are specious claims. For example, termites invented paper, and compasses were used by the Olmecs for divination a millennium before the Chinese. The Cyrus Cylinder was really the first printing press, and it was invented in Babylon. As for gunpowder, however, its all Chinese.
China not inventing much now
Setting aside those inconvenient truths about China’s innovation gene, they have done little to nothing as of late. Flipping the calendar back at least 500 years brings us to the last time the Chinese invented anything that has really helped mankind. They will tell you that this is due to such-and-such a problem with such-and-such an emperor, or blame it on the final Qin dynasty. In between they will comment on how China was attacked and occupied by foreign forces, which aided in their technological demise.
What they fail to do is explain how a country which is 5000 years old and has 20% of the world’s population only came up with four great inventions. They also fail to explain why there is no Chinese Davinci, Picasso, Monet nor Van Gogh. They default back to China’s four great innovations and leave it at that.
China never could innovate
Simply put, given their history, population and records, China has been an innovation laggard for most of its life. Surely they have given back to the world, but on the whole they are a net taker, not giver, and so it is today.
Pilfering policy #1- Program 863
Deng Xiao Ping opened China up before throttling those pesky college students at Tianenman. And what he learned was China was behind, woefully behind. In order to rectify this, he sent college students out to the west to bring back new ideas and tech. He also welcomed cutting edge companies with open arms.
It was all part of the Chinese plan to observe/use/’borrow’ foreign ingenuity. The idea was to take a peek at what we in the west had been doing and then to mimick it, tweak it and join the rest of the world in the race to be the best. In order to achieve this Beijing launched their first authorized attempt at cringing western inventions. The name of this project gives insight into just how creative China can be, this grand plan was simply called Program 863.
A quick overview follows
‘The 863 program is a funding plan created and operated by the government of the (“PRC”),
program was designed by leading PRC scientists to develop and encourage the creation of technology in the PRC and focused on issues such as high technology communications…’
For more on this program, go here.
Once again, they failed
China rolled out a system which would put them in close contact with creative minds, and by osmosis or some other means, the Chinese would absorb the powers of lateral thinking and join the rest of us. Although they did get in close proximity to those who actually created things, their minds and ours were worlds apart. Call it the difference between growing up with freedom vs oppression, but whatever the cause, the Chinese stuck to their fallback, mimicry.
Like I said, Deng hit a hiccup in the road vis a vis that ‘massacre that massacre’ that never happened and once again China stalled. The little 50 calibre warning sealed China’s fate for most of the 90’s and they once again fell behind.
Learning from their failure, China upped its game. To learn how, stay tuned for part 2…..