China’s Silicon Valleys (plural)

March 25, 2014

In You Can’t Build a New Silicon Valley Just Anywhere by Margaret O’Mara, writing for Foreign Policy magazine (August 16, 2010), she said, “for many of the would-be silicon cities being constructed by the Russias and Chinas of the world; with their long histories of centralized control, they are still convinced they can order up success.”

O’Mara’s theme is that the success we have seen in California’s Silicon Valley is due to the freedom America’s republic—now a democracy—offers along with loads of money from the government and venture capitalists with no strings attached.

However, there’s evidence that democracy isn’t needed for innovation, because China (ruled by Emperors under an autocratic imperialistic monarchy) was more technologically advanced than any country on earth for almost two thousand years.

In fact, a recent December 4, 2013 issue of the Wall Street Journal reported that “Beijing’s Zhongguancun district is “studying the style, personality, management and funding of (America’s) Silicon Valley. What’s more, they reject China’s traditional top-down corporate model, deference to management and emphasis on size.” In addition, successful high tech companies in China want to branch out to be more than just a Chinese company.

After all, the Chinese invented the stirrup for saddles which revolutionized warfare on horseback, gunpowder, the multistage rocket, the compass, paper, the printing press and pasta along with a long list of other innovations that changed the world.

Without the Chinese, where would the world be today? See Chinese Crossbow and other Inventions

China may not offer the same individual freedoms the West does, but “face”, which is important in Chinese culture, is a strong motivator to improvise and invent so one gains “face” and becomes powerful and wealthy.

Before Deng Xiaoping and the “Getting Rich is Glorious” generation that he gave birth to, I would have agreed with Margaret O’Mara but not now.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Innovation in China ­– Part 2/2

February 13, 2012

Two examples of Chinese innovation in its private sector were reported by the UN Chronicle.

The title of the UN report was “Industrial And Rural Energy In China: Innovative Private-Sector Initiatives Lead The Way”

The report said,Entrepreneurs in the energy-related sectors, especially in thermal energy, are pushing for groundbreaking and profitable innovations that promise to help control the country’s ravenous industrial energy consumption while maintaining, or even increasing, high levels of output.”


“Encouraging Innovation in China” – Thoughtful China

The UN Chronicle said, “Beijing Shenwu Thermal Energy Technology Company, founded in 1999 by Wu Dao Hong, is a prominent example of the success entrepreneurs are finding in implementing business models that combine environmental and economic goals. It manufactures equipment that reduces industrial fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions.”

The second example mentioned in the UN report was Hao Zheng Yi. “More than 25 years ago he had the foresight to recognize the formation of a large untapped market for clean-energy services in rural China…

“Mr. Hao’s pioneering design for a sustainable heating and cooking stove, based on cleaner and more effective technology, shows how vital private-sector solutions are in supplementing government efforts to address environmental and social challenges…”

In addition, China is planning to generate electricity using nuclear power.

“A 2009 assessment by the IAEA under its Innovative Nuclear Power Reactors & Fuel Cycle (INPRO) program concluded that there could be 96 small modular reactors (SMRs) in operation around the world by 2030 in its ‘high’ case, and 43 units in the ‘low’ case, none of them in the USA.”


Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011

However, “The most advanced modular project is in China, where Chinergy is starting to build the 210 MWe HTR-PM, which consists of twin 250 MWt reactors.” Source: World Nuclear Association

China’s critics may cry that nuclear power is not safe. In fact, safe nuclear does exist and China is leading the way with thorium with the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR).

The UK’s Telegraph reported, “A few weeks before the tsunami struck Fukushima’s uranium reactors and shattered public faith in nuclear power, China revealed that it was launching a rival technology to build a safer, cleaner, and ultimately cheaper network of reactors based on thorium.”

Victor Stenger (Physicist, PhD) writing for The Huffington Post says, “The U.S. may end up buying LFTRs from China. Perhaps WalMart will sell them cheap.”

Return to Innovation in China – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Innovation in China­ ­– Part 1/2

February 12, 2012

Ever since the debate with Troy Parfitt, I’ve been interested to discover if there was a way to measure global innovation to learn how China compares to other nations such as the United States, Singapore and Canada.

In fact, there is a way. It’s called The Global Innovation Index 2011. Since 2007, INSEAD eLab has been producing this index, which recognizes the key role of innovation as a driver of economic growth and prosperity.

Through a complex method of gathering data, INSEAD eLab and its global partners compiled the annual results.

China may not be the world’s number one country on this global index, but it is ranked twenty-ninth of the 125 countries on the list and it has a score of 46.43. The lowest rank went to Algeria, which had a score of 19.79. The highest went to Switzerland with a score of 63.82.

By comparison, the United States ranked seventh with a score of 56.57. However, one region of China beat the US and was ranked fourth—Hong Kong (SAR) with a score of 58.8. Canada was ranked eighth and Singapore, with 76.8% of its population Chinese influnced by Confucian values, ranked third.


Global Innovation Index 2011

The Global Innovation Index ranks countries with a complex series of measurements that are described in detail in a fifty-four page pdf document, which may be accessed from the Global Innovation Web site (see link above).

The pillars used for measuring innovation are: Institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market sophistication, business sophistication, input, scientific outputs, creative outputs, output, and efficiency.

INSEAD has four partners that help compile the data that results in the Global Innovation Index—they are: The World Intellectual Property Organization at the UN (WIPO), Alcatel-Lucent, CII (Construction Industry Institute), and Booz & Company. In addition, INSEAD’s advisory board is comprised of senior representatives from organizations such CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), and ITU.

Why is it important to the global economy to identify countries that have a rich environment for innovation? Professor Dutta says, “Both developed and developing countries realize that innovation is the only way that they can guarantee the competitiveness going forward. It is also important because innovation is important to inspire young people in an economy.”

Continued on January 11, 2012 in Innovation in China – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Global Ignorance of Innovation

October 31, 2010

Many who live in Western democracies love patting themselves on the back and feeling superior to the rest of the world.

In The Economist for October 16, I found Innovation in China — Patents, yes; ideas, maybe, which demonstrates how ignorant some are about China. 

Since The Economist’s home office is in London, the magazine represents more than the American media—it represents the Western media and this piece was written in Hong Kong.

This isn’t the first time I’ve read about China’s reputation for trampling intellectual-property rights and that an authoritarian government couldn’t possibly compete with a democracy when it comes to innovation.

However, the conclusion points out that China is becoming more innovative and is starting to be serious about protecting intellectual property rights through China’s changing legal system.

What The Economist piece misses is that democracies do not hold a patent on innovation. For more than two millennia, innovations were rampant in an authoritarian China ruled by emperors without much of a legal system. The usual form of punishment was decapitation.

In fact, the list of innovations from ancient China is long and historians are starting to revise the textbooks to show that most of what we have today came from an authoritarian China.

To learn more about the innovations that originated in Imperial China then found a way to the West centuries later, I suggest reading Paper, Printing, Gunpowder, Crossbow and other Inventions, Machines of China, and China Points the Way.

I’m sure there are those who will deny the West “borrowed” these innovations from China and claim that the West reinvented them, but the evidence shows that these ideas traveled West along both the north and south Silk Roads as early as the Roman Empire more than two millennia ago. It just took time for the West to learn how to copy what the Chinese invented then claim it was the West that came up with the ideas.

Too bad that the patent laws, lawyers and courts of today didn’t exist then. Imagine the settlements over these ancient Chinese innovations, which revolutionized the world we live in today.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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Silicone “Juice” in China

October 27, 2010

In You Can’t Build a New Silicon Valley Just Anywhere by Margaret O’Mara, writing for Foreign Policy magazine, she says, “for many of the would-be silicon cities being constructed by the Russias and Chinas of the world; with their long histories of centralized control, they are still convinced they can order up success.”

O’Mara’s theme is that the success we have seen in California’s Silicon Valley is due to the freedom America’s republic—now a democracy—offers along with loads of money from the government and venture capitalists with no strings attached.

If that were true, explain how China (ruled by Emperors under an autocratic imperialistic monarchy) was more technologically advanced than any country on earth for almost two thousand years.


If you don’t speak Chinese, the English subtitles say it all.

After all, the Chinese invented the stirrup for saddles which revolutionized warfare on horseback, gunpowder, the multistage rocket, the compass, paper, the printing press and pasta along with a long list of other innovations, which changed the world.

Without the Chinese, where would the world be today? See Chinese Crossbow and other Inventions

China may not offer the same individual freedoms the West does, but “face”, which is important in Chinese culture, is a strong motivator to improvise and invent so one gains “face” and becomes powerful and wealthy.

Before Deng Xiaoping and the “Getting Rich is Glorious” generation that he gave birth to, I would have agreed with Margaret O’Mara but not now.

In my next series, The Machines of Ancient China, we will discover more about China’s contributions to the world we live in.

To discover the Chinese advantage, learn about Guanxi in China

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


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