All successful countries copy what works in the leading countries.
Dr. Michael Pillsbury pretends as if China’s copying of US technology for forty years was some kind of deception or was in some way unique.
In 1812, American Francis Cabot Lowell was a leading Boston merchant who imported a great deal of British cloth and had solid relations with his British counterparts. He toured British cotton plants. Lowells’ bags were searched for stolen designs for power textile weaving machinery. This was a serious crime in England. Lowell memorized the designs. Americans were also desperate to replicate Britain’s famed Sheffield steel which was the best in the world. But the best Sheffield craftsmen the United States could buy failed to replicate it.
Capitalism in its modern form was first developed in the Netherlands and England in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries.
The Japanese knew that they were behind the Western world when American Commodore Matthew C. Perry came to Japan in 1853 in large warships with armament and technology that far outclassed those of Japan with the intent to conclude a treaty that would open up Japanese ports to trade. Japan threw open its doors to foreign technology and copied other successful aspects of the western countries. After WW2, Japan resumed copying and gained success in electronics and cars.
China fell behind and stayed behind for 100 years because China closed itself to Western innovation and technology. Lack of copying doomed China to fall behind for decades. Parts of what was China that started copying first had more success. Hong Kong and Taiwan opened up and copied starting in 1950.
Taiwan and South Korea followed Japan by copying US technology. Taiwan and South Korea also had student study in the USA and Europe and many returned to their home countries and were critical in the success of building up the major technology companies.
Why would Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea be able to succeed and copy technology and build industries and China not be able to succeed and copy? Japan and many leading countries in Europe have 80% of the per capita GDP of the USA.
If China gets to 80% of the per capita GDP of the USA around 2060 then China would have three times the overall economy as the USA. The US was willing to tear down and change cities more than Europe. Europe preserved more of its older roads and construction. China is willing to build megacities and create high-speed connections to create larger efficiencies than the US is doing. The willingness to rebuild and change and reorganize for high-efficiency is a 10-20% per capita advantage for China.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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