Innovation

Robin Li, co-founder and chairman of Baidu.com Inc., poses during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on 23 January 2008. (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg News)

What happened to Baidu, once China's golden boy of innovation?

Wang Yanbo picks apart news of Baidu’s alleged plans to raise up to $2 billion over three years to invest in a biotech start-up, which would use AI technology to develop drugs and help diagnose diseases. Is this yet another example of business giants flailing into unchartered territory to seek new growth? Wasn’t China’s multi-billion dollar search market Baidu’s to harvest once Google ceased its Chinese operations in 2010 amid cyberattacks and censorship issues?
Delivery workers wearing face masks ride scooters in front of Lujiazui financial district, in Shanghai, China, 10 July 2020. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

Socialism and universal basic income: Creating happy societies in the age of the knowledge economy

Lance Gore analyses that the knowledge economy offers great potential for bettering the lives of people. But capitalism may not be the best route to take. Power in the hands of a few, income gaps, job losses and wage cuts in the digital age bear this out. Can China offer a third way as it seeks to marry socialism with a market economy? The West is already considering some proposals with a socialist bent such as the Universal Basic Income (UBI). Surely, proponents of socialism can think of even more revolutionary ideas?
A vendor holding up a Donald Trump latex mask that she sells.

Who will win the US election? Chinese vendors at ‘the world’s supermarket’ think they have the answer

Four years ago, when most political pundits put their money on Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump, vendors in the Yiwu International Trade Market in Zhejiang province already knew that Trump would win. Orders of presidential election merchandise gave them the clue. Termed “the world’s supermarket”, Yiwu is the world’s biggest wholesale market of small commodities. How is it seeking to reinvent itself in the pandemic downturn, and what does this year’s orders list tell them about the likely outcome of the 2020 US presidential election?
A man visits the 2020 World Semiconductor Conference in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China, on 26 August 2020. (STR/AFP)

Is China winning? China lags far behind the US in innovation

Huawei will stop producing its flagship Kirin chipsets from 15 September due to US restrictions and also because China still does not have the ability to produce them on its own. Hong Kong physicist Xu Shijie ruminates on ancient Chinese philosophy's idea of a perpetual cycle of order and chaos, and opines that while the tumultuous events of 2020 seem to signal a move away from a US-led world order, this does not mean that China has the upper hand. Recognising that it still needs to buck up on innovation and kick the habit of seeking quick success will help China build a better world for everyone. 
Attendees browse as a humanoid robot stands in the exhibition display area at the World AI Conference in Shanghai, 9 July 2020. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

'Kiasu' Singapore, 'yao mianzi' China, and 'leela' India: How does culture influence innovation?

In a study conducted by academics from the NUS Business School surveying the China, India, and Singapore landscape, respondents often described the Chinese as disciplined and focused, Singaporeans as structured, fearing failure and sticking to the plan, and Indians as creative, flexible and frugal. While it is not the only or most pertinent factor, cultural traits matter when it comes to managing teams and maximising their potential to innovate.
People walk past a mural on 26 May 2020 in New York City. (Angela Weiss/AFP)

How to become a country with deity-like qualities? Learn from the US

Before walking under a cloud of strained relations, China had been an admirer of US innovation, creativity and enterprise. Recent troubles have shown that the US is no deity, but US-based researcher Wei Da reminds us that some of its deity-like qualities are worth emulating. What must China do to elevate itself and put on some deity-like armour of its own?
Not all innovations are created equal; how can the right kind of innovation be encouraged and incentivised? (iStock)

An innovative China has overtaken the US in patent numbers?

Associate professor Kenneth Huang from the NUS Business School observes that by 2012, China had overtaken the US in terms of the number of patents filed domestically. But this does not mean that all the innovations filed were truly novel or valuable. His recent study on Chinese state-owned enterprises shows that self-serving human factors are at play.
The typical person is irrational, rapacious and does not abide by the law. While he keeps the interior of his apartment magnificent, he goes outside and leaves a shambolic mess without a sense of public order. (iStock)

The "hooligan middle class" will drag down China’s economic development

Prof Zheng Yongnian bemoans the “culturally-bereft” middle class in China, and labels them the “hooligan middle class”. He opines that the absence of a cultural middle class is the reason why China lacks originality in technology and innovation, why the intellectual community produces little useful knowledge, and why China has not been able to advance towards qualitative economic growth. He offers the solution.
The US and China have been competing on different fronts. (Jason Lee/REUTERS)

China and the US, who innovates better?

Who is the better innovator between China and the US? Prof Chen Kang observes that both sides are lacking in confidence in their innovative capabilities, and the grass seems greener on the other side. What are their strengths and weaknesses, and how can China and the West overcome their own insecurities to be more adaptable and responsive?