Forbes: China building world's largest innovation economy

Updated: Sep 20, 2018 Print
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Tencent chairman and CEO Pony Ma Huateng attends the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai on Sept 17, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

China is on its way to becoming the largest innovation economy in the world, reported on Sept 19, noting China's transition from rural poverty to export powerhouse to consumer goliath may be "the most consequential economic event in centuries".

The article also argued China's transition story is largely ignored in the US and in much of Europe.

China is undergoing a major effort to build its own innovation economy and is forcing money into venture capital at an astonishing pace.

According to numbers provided by Peter Diamandis last month, 3,418 Chinese VC funds were launched within the year, raising a combined $243 billion by the end of 2017.

As of 2016, China's venture capital investment had roughly caught up to US levels. Now, it is probably ahead.

Chinese VC firms are targeting three segments: robotics, driverless vehicles and biotechnology.

China is also building its own Silicon Valley, Forbes reported, citing a recent Financial Times article which claimed Beijing plans to integrate Hong Kong and Macau with other nearby urban areas, including Shenzhen and Guangzhou, into a Greater Bay Area.

The area already accounts for 12 percent of Chinese GDP and 37 percent of the country's exports, the report said.

The government is pouring infrastructure investment into the region, including a 35-kilometer bridge connecting Hong Kong and Macau with the mainland and a new $11 billion rail link for Hong Kong.

With nearly 70 million people and $1.5 trillion GDP, it is economically bigger than Australia. Guangdong alone exported $670 billion in goods last year. Three of the world's 10 busiest container ports are in the region. Forbes called it "Silicon Valley on steroids."

China has now cumulatively produced more scientists and engineers than the West, according to the report. Chinese universities and their degrees are comparable and possibly even better than the US in some areas, it said.

A recent study found that in 2016 roughly 24 percent of scientific papers had an author with a Chinese name or address. If including Chinese-language papers, the figure jumps to 37 percent.

China has abundant venture capital to fund vast amounts of research. With massive infrastructure projects like the Greater Bay Area, China is gradually building its own innovation cluster, Forbes said.

Economic growth is largely a numbers game: workers times productivity. China already has both ingredients and is working assiduously to enhance them further.

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