It is widely believed that America exports technology to China and imports, in return, low-tech assembled electronic goods, toys, clothing, and other consumer products. This belief, the conventional wisdom, rests on a widely-held view among Americans that Chinese in China are not creative, that they learn by rote with little emphasis on speaking out, that the society rests on a high degree of consensus and stifles individuality, and so on.
For those who have spent decades observing China’s remarkable economic transformation, conventional wisdom is dated. China’s government has just signed a cooperation agreement with the State of California High-Speed Rail Authority to provide engineering expertise and high-tech parts for the construction of high-speed rail (perhaps providing some of the financing). China is well ahead of the United States in building high-speed trains. China is planning thousands of miles of new high-speed rail construction in the next five years. It should be noted that China’s high-speed trains are faster than Japan’s bullet trains and France’s TGV.
As a general rule, China can make things better, faster, and cheaper. This rule is spreading throughout all sectors of economic activity, including high technology, and is poised to encompass biotechnology in the not-too-distant future.
(Hat Trip: Dean Baker)