These days, when discussing globalization with my friends, the discussion often touches upon China. And more often than not I hear skepticism when suggesting that China’s role is becoming more important and more influential. While I am of the opinion that China is in its early stages of being a global superpower, many people seem to believe that China has some sort of limitation that it won’t ever overcome. The mass production of cheap, low quality goods seems to be the sky’s limit. I strongly disagree with that. I’ve read and heard plenty about the quality of Chinese production going up. And I don’t believe that China is limited by cheap labor alone.
Today, I read an article in GigaOm about Chinese geeks, who have studied and worked in US. Many of them, it seems, are going home to start business in China. Here is a quote form the article:
In China, the red-hot tech scene seems dominated by a small group of entrepreneurs who paid their dues in Silicon Valley before returning home to create successful Internet and software startups. Aside from finding fame and fortune, these “returnees” are also laying the foundation for a startup culture that will allow grassroots entrepreneurs to flourish as well.
Returnees — Chinese nationals who studied or worked the U.S. — head up just 3 percent of all tech companies in China, yet they represent nearly 70 percent of all startups that go public in the U.S. market (still the largest measure of success in the industry), according to an internal study by Palo Alto, Calif.-based venture capital firm GSR Ventures, which deals exclusively in China. The firm also found startups created by returnees were much likelier to become financially successful and hire more employees than startups founded by Chinese entrepreneurs who never worked in the U.S.
On the same note, I’ve heard similar things about India too. You don’t have to know too much about Indians in technology – look at some conference presentations from Google, Yahoo or Microsoft. Half of the people speaking will be of Indian decent. And one day some of them will go back to India to start their own business too. Still think that China and India will serve the world with cheap labor and call centers for the eternity?