China: The Future of Innovation?

The United States of Technology?: "My own best guess is that the next great hotbed for tech innovation will be China. It is steadily tightening the rules for software intellectual property protection. And a raft of amazingly fast-growing Internet businesses have already arisen, including portals Sina.net and Sohu, search engine Baidu, game company Shanda, auctioneer Alibaba, and communications and gaming pioneer Tencent. Some number their customers in the hundreds of millions." -- David Kirkpatrick, Fortune

In terms of scale, I find that last sentence almost incomprehensible. And it will be pretty wild watching the Chinese tech industry deal with numbers like that.
Comments:

This month's Atlantic Monthly has an interesting article on China by James Fallows. I happen to be writing this today in Shenzhen which is part of the focus of the article. I can tell you - China has a lot to offer in terms of emerging high tech and in their approach to supporting population infrastructures and how they deal with them. Not all high tech is about software - they are doing some things differently when it comes to energy. Last year in Kunming, I looked up on apartment rooftops and saw that a large number of them use passive solar energy to heat their water. They are bring some very large solar energy projects online and NY Times author Thomas Friedman has pointed to China as being 'the' big experiment in Solar energy. They are building a multi-billion dollar solar plant in North China - this is one of many such projects. Again last year watching Chinese TV I saw they were starting projects to power low income rural housing with solar energy. In addition, to solar projects they have expanded their efforts to wind power and are building a wind power plant (cost $210 million US) north of Shanghai. All of this is good news given the environmental problems faced by China as their economy grows.

-c

Posted by Charles Ditzel on July 09, 2007 at 10:52 AM JST #

I'm a member of the Advisory Board for the China Open Source Promotion Union (COPU) and was over there recently for the annual consultation. While they are "tightening the rules for software intellectual property protection" (in other words learning from the WIPO bullying and using the same approach to erect tariff barriers against US corporations who use their rules), they also are growing to understand how open source means open participation. The result (which I wrote about recently) will be a surge of engagement from China.

But I believe it will have a different character from the community activity we're used to. I believe we'll see intense, directed participation in Chinese sub-communities. The real question, given the unthinkably large scale of the internal markets these community participants will be serving, is how us poor foreigners will cope when we have to work in a community dominated by brilliant engineers preferring Chinese as a first language and treating English-speakers (far better but) with the sort of attitude we're expressing towards them right now...

Posted by Simon Phipps on July 09, 2007 at 12:43 PM JST #

The GlassFish community is seing a _very strong_ adoption from China in this last month. I agree with you, Jim. China is going to be a very strong player. I wonder if I am too old to learn Mandarin... - eduard/o

Posted by eduardo pelegri-llopart on July 09, 2007 at 07:28 PM JST #

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