China’s Silicon Valleys (plural)

March 25, 2014

In You Can’t Build a New Silicon Valley Just Anywhere by Margaret O’Mara, writing for Foreign Policy magazine (August 16, 2010), she said, “for many of the would-be silicon cities being constructed by the Russias and Chinas of the world; with their long histories of centralized control, they are still convinced they can order up success.”

O’Mara’s theme is that the success we have seen in California’s Silicon Valley is due to the freedom America’s republic—now a democracy—offers along with loads of money from the government and venture capitalists with no strings attached.

However, there’s evidence that democracy isn’t needed for innovation, because China (ruled by Emperors under an autocratic imperialistic monarchy) was more technologically advanced than any country on earth for almost two thousand years.

In fact, a recent December 4, 2013 issue of the Wall Street Journal reported that “Beijing’s Zhongguancun district is “studying the style, personality, management and funding of (America’s) Silicon Valley. What’s more, they reject China’s traditional top-down corporate model, deference to management and emphasis on size.” In addition, successful high tech companies in China want to branch out to be more than just a Chinese company.

After all, the Chinese invented the stirrup for saddles which revolutionized warfare on horseback, gunpowder, the multistage rocket, the compass, paper, the printing press and pasta along with a long list of other innovations that changed the world.

Without the Chinese, where would the world be today? See Chinese Crossbow and other Inventions

China may not offer the same individual freedoms the West does, but “face”, which is important in Chinese culture, is a strong motivator to improvise and invent so one gains “face” and becomes powerful and wealthy.

Before Deng Xiaoping and the “Getting Rich is Glorious” generation that he gave birth to, I would have agreed with Margaret O’Mara but not now.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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