How China will reshape the global power balance for tech innovation
China’s rise as a global tech powerhouse has been well documented in the media this year – everything from shedding its copycat image to the speed in which its happening. So much that it’s reached paranoia-like levels in the U.S. where formal policies are in place to curb Chinese investments in U.S. tech companies. It’s impossible to escape the topic – nearly all my conversations this year with clients are about China. However, the attention on the world’s second largest economy is well justified and, especially when it comes to innovation, dangerously ignorant to ignore or brush off.
With record-shattering venture capital investments and a flurry of new tech unicorns, China is looking at another monster year when it comes to tech innovation. How important is innovation to China? In Xi Jinping’s Congressional address last year he mentioned innovation 59 times with the first reference within his first few remarks. Matter of fact, Xi Jinping wants to transform China into a country of innovators, using innovation as the force behind the country’s development and modernization. If it wasn’t clear enough – China is focused on innovation. More specifically, during the next five years, China will focus its efforts on evolving the manufacturing sector into an advanced manufacturing industry, establishing a digital economy, and meeting the country’s growing energy demand through green energy developments.
China’s Jaw-Dropping Statistics for Technology Adoption and Funding Range From Consumer-Centric Mobile Platforms to Renewable Energy and Electric Vehicles
While China is a leader in some niche portions of the three, it still lags its Western peers overall. However, it’s also shortsighted to view innovation as stagnant and the innovation force shaping the tech landscape will quickly tip the scales towards China. For example, China continues to build off its 2015 “Made in China 2025” initiative around Industry 4.0 with continued robotics development and deployment for advanced manufacturing. And if you haven’t heard by now, artificial intelligence is sort of a big deal, and China has been very public about its ambitions to overtake the U.S. and become a global leader by 2030 through tens of billions of dollars in investments for tech giants and startups alike. Lastly, as the global leader in manufacturing solar panels and wind turbines, it now focuses its attention on Li-ion batteries, which are likely to see the same precipitous drop in prices that happened to the former and China seizing the top position in the process.
This is only a taste of the technologies that China is focusing on. As investments continue to rise to astronomical levels, China has not only positioned itself as one of the global leaders, but soon to be the leader. With strong government support and a long-term vision, we expect to see Xi Jinping’s future China evolve one five-year plan at a time for several decades to come. It’s no longer a matter of speculation if China is becoming the world’s leading innovator, it’s when will it happen. Within the next 20 years, nations around the world will look at China as the ideal model for cultivating innovation, as the copycat becomes the copied.
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