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What we really need to fear about China(译:我们应该真正害怕中国的是什么)--中英对照

American policy makers worry about the dramatic increases in the number of academic papers being published and patents being filed by Chinese researchers. They believe that these will give China a formidable competitive advantage when it comes to innovation. After all, China is now only second to the U.S. in academic publications, and by 2015 it will file more patents annually than the U.S. does.

Our policy makers are right to worry, but they are worried about the wrong things.

The Chinese academic papers are largely irrelevant or are plagiarized. They do little more than boost national pride. Almost no innovation is coming from government-funded research labs. Meanwhile, Chinese patents aren’t an indicator of innovation, but are tollbooths that the country is erecting to tax foreign companies that come to China. The Chinese have learned to play the same games that American tech companies and patent trolls do: Use patents to extort licensing fees from other industry players.

China’s real advantage lies in its next generation — the students who graduate from its top colleges and become entrepreneurs. These kids are very similar to their counterparts in the West. They are smart, motivated, and ambitious. Whereas the children of the Cultural Revolution—who now work in government research labs and lead the State enterprises that dominate industry learned not to challenge authority and to play strictly by government rules, the new generation knows no bounds. They are not even aware of the atrocities of the previous era. They don’t hesitate to think outside the box, to take risks, or to have ambition. Unlike their parents, this new generation can innovate.

The changes I have seen in the entrepreneurial scene in China during my visits over the last six years are dramatic. It used to be that Chinese graduates strove to join Western multinationals. And because of the taboo associated with failure and the low social esteem granted to start-ups, parents discouraged their children from becoming entrepreneurs. No longer. With the success of entrepreneurs such as Jack Ma and Kaifu Lee and the fortunes being reaped by the earlier generations of technology startups, Chinese youth have role models, and parents are becoming more accepting of entrepreneurship. Joining a startup is now the “in thing” in China—just as in Silicon Valley. And it’s becoming acceptable to fail and start again.

There are start-up incubators springing up in all of China’s major cities. According to Lux Research, China venture capital investments reached $5.4 billion in 2010—an increase of 79 percent from the year before. There is so much Angel and Venture Capital available that investors have to compete for investment. One incubator I visited last week, in Beijing, called Garage Café, is offering free office space and Internet connectivity to start-ups just so that it can jump to the front of the line on investments.

During my most recent trip this past week, I also I taught classes at Tsinghua University, for an entrepreneurship program run by UC-Berkeley’s Center for Entrepreneurship. The students there were very much like those I teach at Duke and Berkeley. They were hungry for knowledge, connections, and ideas. The only difference I noted was in the answer to one question: Why do you want to become an entrepreneur? American students usually talk about building wealth or changing the world. The Chinese said they saw entrepreneurship as a way to rise above “the system,” to be their own bosses and to create their own paths to success. They clearly did not cherish the idea of working for a stodgy state enterprise, an autocratic government, or what they deemed to be an opportunistic foreign multinational.

The tens of thousands of highly educated immigrants who return home to China every year from the U.S., give China’s entrepreneurial ecosystem a major boost. These returning immigrants are teaching locals how to build Silicon Valley–style companies.

Take Robert Hsiung, who graduated from Stanford in 2008. He received several job offers in Silicon Valley, Singapore, and Hong Kong. But he chose to become an entrepreneur and to move to Beijing, because the economy was booming and the number of Chinese Internet users was increasing rapidly. Robert’s first start-up, a social-media company called OneCircle.cc, was a moderate success. His next company, FoxFly, failed because larger players moved into his market space. In August, he launched his third start-up, which is building a professional-networking application. Robert told me that he had absolutely no problems recruiting top engineering students. And even though he had failed, Chinese investors readily invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in his latest start-up.

China has a chance to harness all this new energy and lead the world in innovation. But that doesn’t mean that it will. I asked students and local entrepreneurs about the obstacles that they expected to face. Nearly all of them cited two fears: That a bigger company, such as Baidu or Tencent, would steal their technology—because Chinese intellectual property laws are ineffective—and that once they achieved significant success, government officials would swoop in to control the company or demand a cut of the action.

Until China’s rule of law is strengthened and entrepreneurs are given the freedoms that they need, China may see a lot of start-up activity, but world-changing innovation won’t happen. Once China clears away those final obstacles, though, watch out.

 

美国决策者对中国研究人员发表的学术论文和申请的专利数量大幅增加感到担心。他们认为,这些论文和专利将在创新领域赋予中国令人望而生畏的竞争优势。毕竟,中国现在在学术出版物方面仅次于美国,到2015年前后,中国每年申请的专利数将超过美国。

我们的决策者感到担心是对的,但他们却担心错了对象。

中国的学术论文多是无关痛痒或剽窃之作。它们除了提升国家自豪感之外并无裨益。国家资助的研究所基本上没有出现任何创新。同时,中国的专利数量并非创新的指标,只不过是为了向到中国的外国公司课税的收费站而已。中国人已经学会了美国的科技公司和专利体系干的勾当:利用专利以授权费的形式向其他行业参与者进行敲诈。

中国真正的优势在于它的下一代——从中国的顶尖学府毕业、成为企业家的学生们。这些孩子与他们的西方同龄人十分类似。他们聪明、积极、雄心勃勃。在文化大革命中成长起来的孩子——现在在政府研究室工作,领导着在行业中占支配地位的国有企业——知道不去挑战权威,严格按政府规定办事,而新一代行事却不受限制。他们甚至对之前发生过的残酷暴行一无所知。他们毫不犹豫地打破传统思维模式,进行冒险、野心十足。与他们的父母不同,这一代人有能力创新。

过去六年我在多次中国之旅中看到创业局面发生了巨大的变化。过去,中国毕业生力求进入西方跨国公司。而且由于忌讳失败且初创公司不太受社会尊重,家长们都不鼓励孩子成为创业者。再也不会这样了。在如马云、李开复这样的创业者取得了成功滞后,上一代的科技创业公司赚取了巨额财富的背景下,中国的年轻人有了榜样,而家长们对创业的接受度也逐渐变高。现在在中国——和在硅谷一样,加入一家新公司是“时髦的事”。社会对失败和从头再来的接受度也逐渐变高。

在中国的大城市中都有雨后春笋般的创业企业的孵化器。根据Lux研究提供的资料,中国的风险投资在2010年达到了$54亿——比前一年增长了79%。天使基金和风投如此之多,他们不得不为了投资[好项目]而相互竞争。我拜访了北京的一家孵化器,名为“车库咖啡馆”(Garage Cafe),它为初创公司提供免费的办公场所和互联网接入,这样它就可以在投资中跃居前列。

在我最近一次的中国之旅,我还在清华大学讲课,这是一个由加州伯克利大学创业中心运营的项目。那儿得学生们和我在杜克和伯克利大学接触到的很类似。他们求知若渴、对人脉和想法也同样饥渴。我注意到唯一的区别只在回答一个问题上:为什么你想成为一名创业者?美国的学生通常会谈到积累财富或改变世界。而中国学生说他们看到创业是可以升到“体制”高端的途径,成为自己的老板或走出自己的成功之路。很明显,他们对在刻板的国有企业、一个威权政府或他们他们认为带有投机心理的外企里工作并不太感冒。

每年从美国返回中国的千千万万受过高等教育的移民为中国的企业家生态系统提供了另一大助力。这些回国的移民正在教导中国人如何建立硅谷式的公司。

以Robert Hsiung为例,这名2008年斯坦福毕业的学生在硅谷、新加坡和香港都得到了工作邀请。但他选择成为一名创业者并搬到了北京,因为经济在蓬勃发展,而中国的互联网用户在迅速增加。Robert的第一个创业公司是一个名为OneCircle.cc的社交媒体公司,这家公司小有成就。他的下一个公司, FoxFly则失败了,因为更大的行业玩家进入了他的市场。8月,他发起了第三家创业企业,开发基于职业白领的交往应用。Robert告诉我他要雇用顶尖计算机工程学生毫无困难。而即使他曾失败,中国的投资者还是很快在他最近的创业中投下数十万美元。

中国有机会利用所有这些新的能量并在创新领域引领世界。但这并不意味着它一定能做到。我询问我的学生和当地的企业家他们预计会面临怎样的障碍。几乎所有人都列出了两个担心:一是中国的大公司,如百度或腾讯会窃取它们的技术——因为中国的知识产权法不起作用;二是一旦它们取得重大成功,政府官员会突然插手控制公司或要求停工。

在中国的法治得到强化,企业家能得到他们所需的自由之前,中国或许会出现许多创业活动,但不会诞生改变世界的创新。但一旦中国扫清了这些最后的障碍,我们就要当心了。

 

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