With the current trade war with China ostensibly over intellectual property issues there’s been a lot of discussion about how China leverages technology from elsewhere to build their own expertise. “Leverage” in this case may mean espionage, but the biggest component is, and always has been, China’s position as the global manufacturer for new technology. China is the largest manufacturer in the world, with 20% of the global market. It’s not reasonable to expect that they aren’t learning from what they build, even without government intervention.
This is hardly a new strategy, China has been playing the game of leveraging cheap labor to gain technical knowledge for a long time. In the 80’s I worked for Apollo Computer and we were eager to sell to large emerging markets like India and China. Both countries were trying to build their own manufacturing technology, so if you wanted to compete in their markets, you had to do some of your manufacturing there as well.
In India’s case, they had the technology at the time to do wave soldering and thus could build some of the boards in our computers. So we’d ship the core components and a manufacturing line would build the computers.… Continue reading “How we gave China the keys to our technological future”