China’s Innovation Troubles

Jul 26 2012 @ 8:23am

Adam Segal unpacks them:

American C.E.O.s love to quote China’s rising investment in R. & D., but they never follow with Chinese reporting that suggests sixty per cent of state R&D funds are lost to corruption. High-profile plagiarism and academic malfeasance cases continue to surface, and the education system struggles with fostering creativity and individual initiative.

A recent study conducted by the World Bank and the State Council concluded that research quality falls short, scientists publish relatively few high-impact articles, and that the majority of Chinese patents constitute minor tweaks rather than real inventions. Market incentives are still orienting Chinese entrepreneurs to adapting technologies developed in the West for the local market, not thinking long-term and investing in high-risk, high-return breakthroughs. Most important, the government still fears the intellectual competition and freedom to debate the new ideas necessary for innovation.