back to article China wants to be techno SUPERPOWER

The Chinese government appears to be having a crisis of confidence over the ability of its IT industry to innovate over the next decade and propel the nation to become a major technology superpower. The Communist Party’s Central Committee Politburo, almost as close to the apex of decision making as you can get in China, wants to …

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Anonymous Coward

"'Gartner analyst Sandy Shen said progress at encouraging indigenous innovation has been slow thus far. 'It will take decades and several generations to achieve that,' she told The Reg. 'And the Chinese culture to some extent doesn’t work in that favour either – being risk averse, consensus seeking, having a herd mentality, and so on.'"

Assuming by her name that she is Chinese, if she wasn't, she would be liable to be pilloried as a racist for remarks like that.

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Facepalm

Racist my arse!

Calling a spade a spade isn't racist...except to those who've overdosed on political correctness.

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Anonymous Coward

Hey now...

There was a time when "spade" was a racist term for African Americans, so calling "a spade a spade" could be racist.

: /

Of course, that racist pot is always calling the kettle black too...

/joking

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Headmaster

Re: Racist my arse!

No, probably not racist but certainly very ignorant cultural stereotyping. China is a huge nation of almost one and a half billion people and is in cultural terms very much a federation of peoples/ethnic groups. Attempting to "sum up" such a huge and diverse nation in the form of a lowest common denominator cliche is irredeemably stupid. The analyst's remarks say a great deal about the intellect of the person concerned and absolutely nothing of value about the Chinese peoples.

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Big Brother

Re: Racist my arse!

Of course a bigger base (1.4 billion) produces an appropriate number of geniusses, but they can apply their gift to anything, not only innovation. If the surrounding culture is generally risk-averse, the envy factor is high. I'm European, lived in both the US and China for years, and only in the US I had the feeling that failure was not punished by schadenfreude. I am not surprised that (software) innovation correlates highly with a generous environment.

In addition, the Culture Revolution is still very present in the minds of the parent generation, although the government supresses any mention of the terrible ten years, when being a scientist was a sure ticket to re-education in a farming commune.

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Holmes

One key to innovation is freedom of thought and it's expression.

The top innovators are those who are capable of thinking beyond themselves and their immediate needs in order to see those things helpful to their peers.

Culture plays a huge part in this. A culture whichs celebrates diversity and rewards pioneers will always be ahead on this front. One that plays it safe and rigidly follows in the steps of their forebears will always be at a disadvantage.

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Anonymous Coward

Bah humbug... celebrating diversity

I'm not against diversity, but let's not kid ourselves that just because someone is different there is some innate value in them being different. There are a lot of "creative types" in the world who think they are superior by the virtue of how "different" they are (all the while missing the joke of how they are different just like all the other different people to crib a King Missile song).

Not every barefoot, unwashed hippy is going to turn out to be Steve Jobs. Not every gay man is going to be the next Elton John. Not every African American is going to be President.

Put the best man, woman, transgendered person for the job into the job and treat them how you would want to be treated and things will work out just fine. Start making an issue - either for or against - someone's race, religion, sexuality, politics, etc in the workplace and you're asking for trouble. There is no such thing as good or positive favoritism based on anything other than performance.

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Sir

Don't forget how we got all our rocket science etc. We should be careful what we wish for.

Total freedom for human beings usually ends up in tears for someone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bah humbug... celebrating diversity

Unfortunately human nature gets in the way, EVERYONE in the world is prejudiced.

It's part of our survival instincts.

Changing millions, if not billions of years of evolution and genetic disposition overnight is a pipe dream.

While your ideal listed above is nice, reality is a different story.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bah humbug... celebrating diversity

"Unfortunately human nature gets in the way, EVERYONE in the world is prejudiced.

...

While your ideal listed above is nice, reality is a different story."

Was that a reply to me (the one who wrote Bah humbug) or Mr. Lively?

If to me, I don't disagree that people tend to be innately prejudiced... but what I outlined *is* what we should strive for in the workplace... and not for any fluffy bunny feel good reason either.

If we allow our prejudices to dictate who we pick for a job (or promote, or give a raise to), and we pick less qualified and less effective people because (in the negative) they *are not* a minority/handicapped/polysexual/whatever... or (in the positive) they *are* a minority/handicapped/etc, you are screwing yourself. In the workplace you should celebrate and reward effectiveness and results, otherwise you risk losing your best performers if they do not fall under your arbitrary ethnic/religious/whatever lines.

Furthermore, I would argue that by making anything other than performance and effectiveness a criteria by which people are judged, you will tend to exacerbate people's innate tendency towards prejudice... which will result in people of different groups working together less well, less effectively, less efficiently, etc.

I had a management professor in college who said "[You know why most companies are not racist/prejudiced anymore don't you? It's because they cant afford to be. They can't afford to promote and reward less effective people just because they are white/straight/whatever]". 15 years later, you can argue that this is/isn't really the case on a % basis... and arbitrary and unproductive favoritism absolutely exists in business... sure. That said, I don't think you can argue with him that as a leader (I have, give or take, 50 people that report to me in various capacities) one should strive towards celebrating and rewarding employees based on how good of a job they do... not because of arbitrary criteria that has nothing to do with their job performance.

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FAIL

I hope soon China starts to reform itself politically somewhat. Having a corrupt oligarchy selected mostly by heritage long term is not going to end well otherwise. Considering what the rabid right has done to our system though its hard to take the high road.

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Anonymous Coward

The Internet would never have been invented in China

Or the multicultural UK either for that matter.

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I am not exactly sure where I read this quote and I know for a fact I am not quoting verbatim but, "The Chinese are not brilliant innovators, they are just exceptionally good at mimicry". I would tent to agree with that I am not saying that on a individual person to person level they are not great as at innovating, but as a nation they seem to let others do the heavy lifting then add a little extra to make what ever it is work right for them.

I am also kind of recalling something on QI, about how the early Chinese technological development stalled because they didn't discover glass and favoured ceramics.

Anyway I hope things reform in China, but some of the recent crack downs make it less likely it will happen any time soon or be pain free.

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Happy

It all depends how you define Race

Have you not noticed that every other surname of an "American" scientist making a breakthrough is Chinese? :-) Surveys of IQ (which, yes, are still subjective) rank your average Asian above your average European for that matter. So, at the genetic level, there's no difference, or perhaps Chinese people are on average just a bit cleverer. Is that racism?

Culturally, for millenia the backbone of the Chinese empire was a meritocratic civil bureaucratic administration. That culture produced more innovation, for a longer period of time, than any other empire in the history of man. Don't see any inferiority there.

On the other hand, since the "cultural revolution" massacred the nation's intellectuals and creatives in state organised and executed pogrom, you'd expect the shock waves to still be echoing forward through time. Stick your neck out? Not bloody likely.

That's how it was with the six Chinese PhD. students in my lab. Very, Very bloody clever. Capable. Imaginative. Creative as well. Curious. But very very cautious with letting on what they were really thinking about. Discussion of domestic Chinese politics? FORGET IT.

That's all changing now, and very rapidly. The Communist party is now, essentially, just red paint over the newly emerging capitalist classes. It is really the first truly modern capitalist nation to emerge, without any of the restraining influence of "democracy" as we know it. *THAT*'s what scares the crap out of me!

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Bronze badge

Re: It all depends how you define Race

Agreed. Chinese development is currently held by a LOT by the governments strict control. The prime directive for any scientist is: Why? (or "How the crap could that work?") And being scientists you apply that question to all parts of your life, including your government.

A Chinese student or expat will never comfortably discuss Chinese politics, but from what I've gleaned, the smart ones are all currently uncomfortable actually executing their research in China. In part due to what has happened in the past, but also because they can never be sure their research will ever have the benefit it COULD have. If the government says they can't pursue it, they can't. End of story. IF they can break through the restrictive culture currently holding them back, china could be a force to be reckoned with.

(But they will also have to get a true high-precision industry going. One that can produce to uncompromisingly high standards. With quality control to match. While they are getting better at it, the Chinese industrial complex is currently set up almost exclusively for "good-enough" high volume manufacturing. Low count high precision products are not really "their thing".

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Coat

"Techno superpower"

I think Detroit might have something to say about that!

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Happy

Re: "Techno superpower"

I wonder if in a bid to save money, western dance music producers will outsource their music production to China? I can imagine a huge Foxconn factory just full of Macs, Midi controllers and speakers with hundreds of workers toying away knocking out the latest tunes - I wonder which production line would be the most prized to work on? I imagine it must suck to be on the Dubstep line, all that wobble bass would drive the workers insane!

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Silver badge

HAPPY HAPPY HARDCORE

Finally, I was getting fed up with non-stop German techno.

TO SIBERIA… AND BEYOND!

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Re: HAPPY HAPPY HARDCORE

I've got some Japanese Happy Hardcore, its quite cool. Would love to hear a Chinese take on the style.

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Boffin

The article IS racist and peddles a stereotype...

..as the example of Taiwan (which in many ways is more deeply imbued with Chinese culture than China) shows.

Innovation? Commercial success? Get-up-and-go? It's all there in spades.

Now, if you were to argue that the Chinese Communist Party has consistently stultified enterprise, then you'd be arguing on the basis of evidence, rather than racist assumptions.

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Anonymous Coward

Hang on a second...

So TAIWAN is a better example of CHINESE culture than CHINA?

...and your definition of Chinese culture is "[China minus the influence of the CCP]"?

I don't think anyone is disagreeing that the lack of innovation, commercial success, etc in China is in large part due to their government... but I'm not sure one can arbitrarily remove government - especially one like the CCP - from the equation. Let's consider for a moment this argument:

"If one says that North Korean culture lacks innovation, efficiency, commercial success, and get-up-and-go... they are racist. After all, South Korea has no lack of any of these... the only difference is the WPK."

While admittedly a more extreme example than yours, perhaps you can see my point?

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Gold badge

Re: Hang on a second...

I have no problems with separating the CCP From Chinese culture. The CCP themselves describe their doctrine as "communism with Chinese characteristics", implicitly accepting that the party's main doctrines are a European import, over which some traditional values have to be laid before the results are palatable to the local population.

Similarly, I have no problems separating the politics of Hitler and his cronies from "German culture". Indeed, a failure to do so generally results in people getting upset and mis-using the word "racist".

Communism in China has to survive until the mid 2020s before it outlives even the Russian version. Compared to the broad strokes of Chinese history going back 3000 years or so, the CCP are a flash in the pan.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hang on a second...

I like your German example, but I am curious if we were in, say, 1938 would it be inappropriate to describe German culture to include the totalitarian Nazi/Hitler influence that was so pervasive at the time?

Personally, I find it a little odd - if not somewhat disingenuous - to talk about 1930s German culture without talking about the government's influence.

That's not to say, of course, that German culture is still anything like that... and it wasn't before... but during that time I don't think you can seperate the two anymore than one could sepetate North Korean culture today from the WPK, or today's Chinese culture from the CCP.

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