This is a question often asked by many. On the surface it may seem that way but actually there are many inventors in China that are doing some great things.
First off, Chinese have been credited for inventing silk, porcelain, printing, the compass, the wheelbarrow, kites, various forms of medicines and even gunpowder, so they have a history of being known for great inventions. However, what people tend to get caught up in is- what have the Chinese invented over the last century or so?
There actually have been many inventions coming from China but a lot of them have yet to surface outside of the nation. Some of these include advancements in medicine, technology and architecture, with one of the most recent worth mentioning is a new form of construction that involves prefabricating pieces of building in a factory, which later are shipped to a given location to be formed and stacked together to create various office buildings and living spaces. This advancement by Broad Sustainable Building Corporation aims to build some of the world’s tallest buildings at 90 days a time using the method, and is considered to be an engineering miracle.
However, what people still see though is that China is just full of copycats who don’t know how to create their own products. Some people are referring to the fact that if you go to China you are likely to see products everywhere that highly resemble those in the West. I’ll elaborate as to perhaps why this is so, but it is in no way to discredit all the other great engineering and various talents coming from the country.
China has been a bit paralyzed from its history over the last 100 years due to political turmoil that extends from the overthrow of the Qing government from 1911 through the Mao Zedong area into the mid 1970s. Throughout these periods China has been restructuring its economic, social and political models, and has largely looked to the West for strategies and answers, according to many scholars. During this process, Chinese noticed what helped push economies in the West move forward, what products are in demand as well as what strategies are working there, so influence from the West was also inescapable and was later used as a way of identifying progress and modernity in China.
The West largely became a model for Chinese in terms of economics, i.e. market capitalism/consumerism etc., which was pushed forth in their economic model and later in China’s education as a result, most notably in higher education. For the Chinese, their education shifted more from traditional and so-called socialist based viewpoints on making their society function into ideologies that would promise so-called prosperity and progress. Thus, certain products and technologies have been used as frameworks for providing value to Chinese society and represent status within the nation as well.
The end result? Well, many would say anything from clothing, to electronics to vehicles have been essentially mimicked under the notion of “Chinese characteristics” (such as China’s economic model of socialism/capitalism with Chinese characteristics). The Chinese tend to look at what becomes popular in the West and then evaluate whether a product will become popular in their homeland. What’s more so, due to China’s economic power mixed with relatively low labor costs, Chinese can are able to produce products quickly and cheaply.
Whether Chinese are good at copying or admire other countries’ work or both is up to you to decide. One thing for sure though is that Chinese are efficient and quick when it comes to getting products in the market. It will only be a matter of time before people see more “designed and produced in China” markings on products instead of just “produced in China” as well, as the nation is filled with people who are developing their own products.