The Return of Innovation to China – Part 2/2

May 15, 2012

Before counting how many Nobel Prizes in science have gone to Western/American scientists, it should be mentioned that “Ashkenazi Jews (European/white Jews: i.e most Jews) make up just 3% of the United States population, yet were responsible for 27% of the US science Nobel Prizes and 25% of the Turing Awards in the 20th century.”

Jeff Weintraub says, “It’s well known that overseas Chinese have often been compared to the Jews (by themselves and by others).

“Chinese and Jewish cultures are the two oldest civilizations in the world and share a lot in common. Both highly emphasize the family tie function and educational value, and although both have absorbed various exotic cultures, their central core has never changed since birth.” Source: Jews in China: Legends, History and New Peresepectives

“Moreover,” Weintraub says, “it seems like my friends were more or less correct that their Chinese diaspora constitutes the ‘Jews of Asia.’ From Hanoi to Bangkok to Jakarta and beyond, the merchant classes are overwhelmingly peopled with well-educated ethnic Chinese whose connections to the homeland and each other — the ‘Bamboo Network’ — constitute a huge business advantage. They are also, like the Jews, periodically expelled (from Vietnam), repressed (under Indonesia’s Suharto) and rioted against (in Malaysia, Thailand and really everywhere else). Like Jews, they are fiercely proud of their heritage, assimilating somewhat while maintaining temples that assert identity.”

In addition, China’s government has thrown billions in recent years into building a top-notch research establishment, hoping to keep its best scientists working here and lure back those who are abroad. Moreover, there are more foreign students from China attending US universities than from any other country—more than 150,000 annually spending over $4 billion for their US educations, and those students first went to school in China and then came to the US as a college student. In fact, China’s next president has a daughter attending Harvard. When these students return to China with their university degrees, they will be bringing the innovative, critical thinking, problems solving skills home with them.

One example of the results of this investment in “top-notch research” may be seen in a recent breakthrough in carbon nanotube-based cables technology at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Source: Science Daily

To the hardcore skeptic demanding more evidence, in early 2012, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, one of the world’s most prestigious research foundations, announced Tuesday that it was honoring 28 biomedical researchers who studied in the United States and then returned to their home nations. Each will receive a five-year research grant of $650,000.

Seven — more than any other nation — were from China.

“They’re incredibly energetic, extremely smart, highly productive and accomplished,” Robert Tjian, president of the institute, said of the Chinese winners in a telephone interview.” Source: New York Times

Return to The Return of Innovation to China – Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

The Return of Innovation to China – Part 1/2

May 14, 2012

The China History Forum asked, “Which dynasty was most technologically innovative?”

Of the few responses, less than 6% said the Qin and Han Dynasties. More than 70% answered the Sung/Song Dynasty and about 18% voted for the Ming Dynasty.

The Dynasties ruled by the Mongols (Yuan) and the Manchu (Qing) minorities received no votes. The Qing Dynasty (the Manchu) ruled China 1644 to 1912 and repressed the Han Chinese so that earning rank or recognition through merit, which was an element of Chinese civilization for more than two millennia, broke down possibly allowing the West, for the first time, to become more technologically advanced than China.

In fact, when the Sung Dynasty fell to the Mongol invasion led by Kublai Khan many of the innovations of the Sung renaissance were destroyed by the invaders.

Today, some critics of China often claim that the Chinese cannot innovate and that they are copycats stealing ideas and concepts from the West.

The most common reasons given are Confucianism, rote learning, and piety, which encourage obedience of authority.  However, if this were true, what explains the Chinese inventions of silk, paper, porcelain, gunpowder, the printing press, the compass, a cure for scurvy, modern ship building techniques, the multi-stage rocket, the assembly line, napalm, the stirrup, the crossbow and much more—all centuries before those innovations appeared in the West.

When challenged, the critic will often use this flawed reasoning as evidence: “How many Chinese have won the Nobel Prize?”

In fact, the first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901 about the time of the Boxer Rebellion in China and the first Sino Japanese War—long after the innovative glory of the Sung Dynasty (960-1276 AD). The stability necessary for innovation to take place would not return to China until after Mao died in 1976.

Then thirty-four years later, in 2010, four Chinese won the Nobel Prize in Physics, and one Taiwan born Chinese was a Chemistry Prize winner.

Howard Steven Friedman, writing for the Huffington Post, reported, “”No one born in the mainland China has won the Chemistry or Physiology/Medicine until this year, and all four of the mainland China-born winners of the Physics prize (Charles K. Kao, Daniel C. Tsui, Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee) received their graduate training and did their prize-winning research outside of China (three in the US, one in the UK). The one Taiwan-born Chemistry Prize winner, Yuan Tseh Lee, did his graduate work in the US…”

However, these Chinese Noble Prize winners were all raised by Chinese parents and went to school in China or Taiwan before attending colleges in the West.

Friedman then asks and answers, “So when will we see a Nobel Prize winner in science who was trained in China and did their prize-winning research in China?

“Not for a long time,” he says.

Then Friedman explains why, and it has little to do with Confucianism, rote learning or piety. He says, “Although the Chinese government has been investing in its science technology as well as luring established scientists of Chinese descent back to the mainland, it will take years to build a strong infrastructure for cutting-edge research… Delays will also be due to the typically decades-long lag between when research occurs and when an award is granted. This lag, which allows for validation of the scientific merit and importance, means that great scientific discoveries that occur now will most likely not be awarded until 10, 20 or even 40 years in the future.”

Continued on May 12, 2012 in The Return of Innovation to China – Part 2


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

Americans doing Business in China – Part 13/16

March 4, 2012

Note from Blog host — another example of East meets West through business and trade: Miller-McCune says, “Since the 1990’s dot-com boom, “tens of thousands of Ph.D.s, primarily from China, have arrived to staff American university laboratories, and the information industry has padded its ranks with temporary workers who come largely from India.”

However, The New York Times reports,, “No Chinese-born scientist has ever been awarded a Nobel Prize for research conducted in mainland China, although several have received one for work done in the West…” In addition, “Recently, though, China has begun to exert a reverse pull. In the past three years, renowned (Chinese) scientists…have begun to trickle back. And they are returning with a mission: to shake up China’s scientific culture of cronyism and mediocrity, often cited as its biggest impediment to scientific achievement… They are lured by their patriotism, their desire to serve as catalysts for change and their belief that the Chinese government will back them.”


Guest Post by Bob Grant — publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption, an international online magazine.

For various reasons, my business in China declined a little over two years ago, and I have not had occasion to visit there during that time period. A lot has happened—both within the U.S. and China—since my business went south.

I do miss China – its people – its culture – its smell. This might seem like an irrational statement since China is suppose to be one of the most polluted countries in the world, but it is not the smell of pollution that sticks in my memory.

Our China office was located in Guangdong Province, which is in the southern part of China near Hong Kong. Traveling around that province, I always remember the fresh scents of flowers, rain, trees, grass, and meals being prepared for daily consumption.

I tended to visit factories that were in outlying areas—their conference rooms, factories, reception rooms, and gardens all had a smell that I grew to welcome during each of my visits. As I made trips and visits to other parts of China, I felt they each had their own unique smells and aromas that I have not found any other place in the world that I have traveled.

I have written other posts regarding my feelings about the Chinese people—those have not changed. I am not certain that I will ever have occasion to visit China again but the smells and memories of that country and its people will remain with me forever.

Note from Blog host – If you plan to do business in China, I recommend visiting the China Law Blog first.

Continued March 5, 2012 in Americans doing Business in China – Part 14 (a guest post) or return to Part 12


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

Subscribe to “iLook China”
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page.

About iLook China

Note:  This guest post first appeared on April 27, 2010