Can the Chinese Really Deliver What the Rest of Us Want?
China does have the capability to innovate, disrupt and supply those of us in the West with outstanding quality products
China was once a world leader in science and technology and is known for the Four Great Inventions (pictured)—papermaking, printing, the compass, and gunpowder. These were inventions that changed the world, particularly the economic development in East Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
Apart from the Great Four, the Chinese also delivered silk (4000 BC), tea (2737 BC), acupuncture (2597 BC), noodles (2000 BC), porcelain (1600 BC), iron smelting (1050 BC), the crossbow (700 BC), the abacus (500 BC), the umbrella (21 AD), the seismograph (132 AD), the wheelbarrow (197 AD), kites (549 AD) and the compass (800AD). The list continues of ancient Chinese inventions that revolutionized many industries we take for granted today.
So, what happened? Did this ability to innovate and disrupt the status quo disappear?
Let me tell you a true story that shocked me.
A Western buyer visited a Chinese factory that was allegedly manufacturing 200,000 printer cartridges per month. This company claimed to do a full-page-yield test on 2% of all finished goods, picked randomly from the production line. Doing the math, he expected 4,000 cartridges being tested200 per day each with an average yield of 4,000 pageswould mean almost one million pages were being printed every day. My buyer friend asked to visit the Quality Control (QC) area to see all these printers at work, the huge stocks of paper needed and the sample results. He was told the QC area was closed for the day. My friend responded, No problem, could you simply unlock the area so I can see it for myself. He was told the only person with the key was not there. He asked if he could look through a window. He was told that would not be possible either.
Such stories are not isolated and have tarnished the reputation of the once-mighty enterprising empire. Buyers are unsure whether the technology, quality and integrity standards are robust enough to satisfy the demands of their own end-user customers.
Yet, in spite of such horror stories, China’s patent office received 1.54 million patent applications in 2018. In 2019, China surpassed the U.S as the top source of international patent applications filed with WIPO.
Some 10,000 Chinese engineers and academics produced faster high-speed train technologies in three years that are now being exported to other nations.
As of 2020, China has the world’s longest, and most extensively used high-speed railway (HSR) network.
It now accounts for two-thirds of the world’s total HSR networks and it is predicted to soon have more than the rest of the world combined.
Out of this world?
Then let’s go to space.
The Tianwen-1 mission entered Mars orbit at the end of February 2021. It’s expected to land a rover on Mars’ surface in May.
In 2003, China become the third country to independently send humans into space aboard Shenzhou 5. Their Lunar Exploration Program landed a craft on the dark side of the moon and is planning a manned lunar landing sometime in the next few years. Then comes the exploration of Mars and Venus. Its five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, completed in 2016, is the world’s largest radio telescope.
Chinese industries are not only at the technological frontier in electronics, electric-powered vehicles, high-speed railways, aviation and space exploration. They are also driving technological innovations in emerging areas such as
new and renewable energy, advanced nuclear energy, big data, A.I., robotics and e-commerce. The Wall Street Journal said, “China’s technology sector is reaching a critical mass of expertise, talent and financial firepower that could realign the power structure of the global technology industry in the years ahead.”
China joined Japan, Korea and the United States to become one of the only four nations to research and develop printer and copier technologies.
COVID-19 gave me the time to personally visit many enterprises here in China. My recent visit to the HaoYinBao Group (HYB) professional lab and QC testing centre, for example, revealed all that I have heard from very satisfied customers from all over the world.
China does have the capability to innovate, disrupt and supply those of us in the West with outstanding quality products.
This should not be seen as a threat as some governments and media agencies would have us believe. It’s an exciting opportunity that can help us grow our businesses.
*This article was published in our latest ImagingWorld magazine Issue 117. Click to download the full issue for free.
David Gibbons has 44 years of experience, knowledge and skills in business (management, consultancy, strategic planning) and communication (teaching, event management, fundraising, journalism, broadcasting and new/digital media—social, website, app development). He started and ran a successful cartridge remanufacturing business in Sydney and was also the Executive Officer of the Australasian Cartridge Remanufacturers’ Association for 7 years.
In 2011, Gibbons relocated to RT Media in Zhuhai, China where he has been a director responsible for strategic planning, senior management, event planning, marketing, broadcasting and magazine publishing on behalf of the global imaging supplies industry.
His other blogs include:
- Can the Chinese Really Deliver What the Rest of Us Want?
- Using Chip Technology to Control Consumer Choice and Markets
- 5 Quick Questions: Investing in Your Supply Chain
- Are You the Missing Link in the Industry Chain Berto Asks
- 6 Quick Questions: E-commerce and the New Normal: Interview with Aaron Leon
- Bike Courier Services Boom in China During Coronavirus
- Meeting the Market’s Changing Demands: SCC Responds
- Dealing with Printer Firmware Upgrades: Megain’s Wang Hua
- Best Position Ever – Serving Customers During an Economic Slowdown
- Where were you in 2019? Everything is About to Change
- A Misplaced Australian in China – a different world view
- Have you seen the news?
- To Be? Or Not to Be? … But that’s NOT the Question
- What the Dickens? Americans used to abuse IP rights too.