5 Myths about China
With an EU delegation, Katja Nettesheim visited five Chinese cities in early summer. The journey has fundamentally changed her image of China. Here she clears up frequently heard myths about the People's Republic
by Katja Nettesheim
August 28, 2018
# 1 "Chinese can only copy"
Chinese companies have long had the dubious reputation of copying successful products, brands and business models from the West and selling them on their own market with only minor modifications. Such a phenomenon is known as "shanzhai," a Chinese term originally used to describe bandit-besieged villages outside government control. Since the opening up of China to the international markets, the name has become the epitome of counterfeit goods and IP theft in the wake of rising product piracy. And it is indeed striking how strongly Chinese companies seem to orientate themselves to western ones - so there were early exact replicas of "Nokir" or "Samsing" phones. But Chinese companies are doing more, as just functioning models - they often make them better. So I saw with my own eyes in the electronics markets iPhones, which run with the Chinese operating system superior Android. This deconstruction and improvement of the originals is deeply rooted in Chinese tradition and can already be found in ancient masterpieces. It is their kind of innovation, which explains the often lacking sense of wrongdoing from the Western point of view.
By copying and improving or combining, something new and independent arises instead of a simple copy. And in fact, China is catching up on the number of independent international patent applications. In 2017, the People's Republic of China was second in international patent applications to WIPO (behind the United States, but by a small margin), pushing Japan out of that position in yet another record year. Among the top 15 countries of origin, China is the only country to report double-digit annual growth (+ 13.4%) - double-digit, uninterrupted since 2003.
# 2 "China is not at our development level yet"
Another myth about China is expressed in a certain arrogance of Western countries when it comes to whether China is a serious competitor in the long term. China, for example, is still often regarded as a developing country which, in order to reach the level of Western economic powers, still has much to catch up with. The reality looks quite different now. Especially cities like Beijing, Shanghai and especially Shenzhen and Guangzhou are bringing forth more and more innovations and have an infrastructure that one can only envy as a German. The concept of efficiency enclaves, ie cities that provide a reservoir for specific specializations, as well as the pragmatic concept of pilot cities, in which political and institutional innovations are tried out, offer an innovation potential,
# 3 "Made in China can not do the trick" made in Germany
At first glance, the quality seals "Made in Germany" and "Made in China" supposedly represent a strong contrast. You probably also think on the one hand of high quality, low fault tolerance and extreme accuracy, on the other hand, "fast, cheap, a lot ". Even in China itself, the brand "made in Germany" works exceptionally well. Because China can now not only "cheaper", but often "better". This is especially noticeable on the smartphone market. Here, Huawei has taken up the fight with companies like Apple or Samsung - and is doing well. CEO Richard Yu said recently that they wanted to not only overtake Apple with uncompromisingly good quality, but also replace the Korean Samsung as the largest smartphone manufacturer. And indeed: According to preliminary IDC data, Huawei delivered 54.2 million handsets in the second quarter of 2018, up 40.9 percent from a year earlier. In the meantime, Apple has delivered "only" about 41.3 million units, which represents growth of 0.7 percent over the same period last year. "Made in China" is therefore no longer necessarily a warning, but under the strategy "Made in China 2025" is becoming more and more a serious seal of innovation - which can also make "made in Germany" dangerous. 7 percent compared to the same period last year. "Made in China" is therefore no longer necessarily a warning, but under the strategy "Made in China 2025" is becoming more and more a serious seal of innovation - which can also make "made in Germany" dangerous. 7 percent compared to the same period last year. "Made in China" is therefore no longer necessarily a warning, but under the strategy "Made in China 2025" is becoming more and more a serious seal of innovation - which can also make "made in Germany" dangerous.
# 4 "The Chinese are incredibly efficient worker bees"
Here you have to differentiate: working bees yes, but not necessarily efficient. So many, especially in emerging cities like Shenzhen, have told me that people are working to health risk. Partly because the supply industry around this city is so fast that you never have to wait long for prototypes and reworked versions. The obvious manifestation of this labor addiction are the pendulum currents that take place at very early and very late times - and the naps in public everywhere. But efficient? I do not know ... Sometimes you get the impression that you first work, then you think. And often enough to fulfill any governmental goals - the flip side of the strict central control of the economy. So business parks are being built everywhere and often which are then empty, because the market is not there for it. Meanwhile, there are already companies that specialize in cheap take on these ghost towns and convert them for new purposes. Or, after a 20-minute conversation with a foreign company, a "Memorandum of Understanding" will be signed in a major ceremony. It seems that there is also a target that needs to be reported to the party.
# 5 "China's economic growth will not be good for long"
When thinking of Chinese cities, many think of skyscrapers, crowded streets - and smog. People with breathing masks, sick by the polluted breathing air, have to answer for the companies, which subordinate the economic success everything, also the health. Also, I had similar expectations before my stay in China - and was surprised. There was not much air pollution - the sky was clear, the air was pleasant. If you look at it, the reason and extent of the change becomes clear: China has been committed to building an "ecological civilization" as a national strategy since the 17th Party Congress in 2007. And to the leadership of the Communist Party, President Xi Jinping said in 2013, "We will never again seek economic growth at the expense of the environment. "And in China, yes: said, done. Some examples:
China is the world market leader in the sale of electric vehicles - and in public transport as well: All 16,000 buses in Shenzhen are electrically powered. There are supposed to be around 400,000 electric buses in China, and another 19,000 are added every ten weeks (twice as much as London's bus fleet).
Almost one third of the solar panels installed worldwide are located in China (according to Bloomberg).
In 2018, China is reforesting an area the size of Ireland, employing 60,000 troops.
Environmental protection is now in second place in the performance criteria for mayors - just behind the commune's GDP growth.
The implications are as follows: According to Bloomberg, average daily air pollution in Beijing was almost a third lower than in 2015, and in some other major cities there was a decline of about one-tenth.
Best of all, while smog has long been excused as an inevitable byproduct of rising affluence, there are no signs that environmental protection is derailing the country's economy: last year's growth accelerated to 6.9 percent - the first uptrend since seven years. In addition, China sees high-tech industries such as electric cars and solar modules as an opportunity to play a leading role in environmental protection and set standards, not least because of the vacuum that the US is currently leaving behind. So again you can see how quickly China, thanks to its governmental form of a dirigiste capitalism, can kill the counter.
So I can only refer to the ancient wisdom that makes travel - and can only recommend to anyone a visit to China. And not only to the historical China of the Wall and the Terracotta Army, but especially to the modern China in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, etc. They will make eyes!