The Chinese government appears to be having a crisis of confidence over the ability of its IT industry to innovate over the next decade and propel the nation to become a major technology superpower.
The Communist Party’s Central Committee Politburo, almost as close to the apex of decision making as you can get in China, wants to spur greater technological reform in order to boost creativity and drive economic growth through innovation, Xinhua reported.
This reform should be "scientific, vigorous and more efficient", in order to turn China into a “innovation-oriented country” by 2020 and a “world technological power” by 2049, a statement of the meeting said.
Job-seeking IT pros may be keen to learn that as well as training up young domestic talent, the Politburo wants to introduce more overseas personnel of “high calibre” to assist these efforts, Xinhua said.
Since its re-emergence on the global political stage and economic growth was kick-started by Deng Xiaoping in the 80s, China has never been shy of setting itself pretty challenging targets, and for the most part has confounded its Western critics.
It has liberalised economically while maintaining strict authoritarian control over the state and society.
Despite already boasting some leading global tech brands such as Huawei and Lenovo, it’s no secret that Chinese firms have a reputation for having accelerated their development in the past thanks to nicking their rivals’ IP rather than nurturing a great deal of home grown innovation.
On the web front, meanwhile, few Chinese firms have been able to expand out of the domestic market, which arguably they don’t need to do at present given its enormous size.
One big potential barrier to Chinese internet firms achieving the kind of breakthrough success the Politburo wants, is the country’s prohibitive online censorship laws, which put a huge financial and resource burden on any firm wanting to grow and innovate in the space.
The government might have recently opened up the registration rules for its .cn domain, but it will need to do a lot more if it wants home grown companies to rival Silicon Valley firms on the world stage.
Given the Party’s number one priority is to stay in power, however, it will no doubt try to find ways of overcoming the “severe challenges” facing its technological development in other ways.
Gartner analyst Sandy Shen said progress at encouraging indigenous innovation has been slow thus far.
“It will take decades and several generations to achieve that,” she told The Reg.
“And the Chinese culture to some extent doesn’t work in that favour either – being risk averse, consensus seeking, having a herd mentality, and so on.” ®