I used to subscribe to more mainstream media publications for source of information but now I receive lots of Organic Newsletters and Blogs not only supplementing to but sometimes more overwhelming than the mainstream mass media. We are living in a fast-paced world exhibiting rapid changes in our behaviors, our business environments and even life or death consequences by innovations and reforms. The Internet is the major thrust to the changes in our lives. Tons of reports and essays can be found in mainstream media published by New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Economists, Business Week, the like or prestigious consulting firms like McKinsey or think tanks like Brookings Institute. However, these reports seem to be not fast enough in covering the impacts that are brought on by the Internet and things, especially the tremendous reform and innovation that is happening in China. The US mainstream media may be somewhat reserved in reporting China’s reform and innovations, but the Organic Media are never shy in telling the facts.
Welcoming the New Year, I am dedicating this week’s column to reform and innovation in China. I can safely state that the reform and innovation in China are no joke judging on her past accomplishments, current impetus and future plans. You may not read them in the mass media but they are real and known at least in the think tanks. I don’t understand why we are not getting the facts and details in our mass media? The rapid changes and growth in China are really massive and they do have the participation of the masses. There is no way for the United States to compete with China if we don’t get our mass involved. Silicon Valley is great but it is just not enough. I hope what is presented below will give us a wake-up call. We invented the Internet, Apple’s iPhone helped the company to break the $80 Billion mark, but from mass application point of view, China has long surpassed the U.S. as we will discuss below.
First, let’s look at the infrastructure in the nation; the U.S. had been the envy of the world in the 1960’s. We had the best highway system linking across all the States in the North America Continent. Now China has surpassed us in highway constructions, 4.6 million kilometers (km) in 2015, for 2015/2005, the statistics show passenger (pr) 16.19B/16.97B pr (B=billion), a decrease due to alternative transportation, but an increase of kilometer traveled, 1074b/929b pr-km and freight transported 31.5b/13.4b tons and 5.79T/869b ton-km. The high-speed railroad lines are more impressive, some 24,000 km (15,000mi) of railroads (121,000 km total in 2015) supporting trains at speed of 250-350 km/hr (155-217 mi/hr). The growth (2015/2005) shows passenger 2.5b/1.6b pr, 1196b/606b pr-km, and freight 3.4b/2.7b tons and 2.4 T/ 2T (T=trillion) ton-km. The statistics for China’s waterway and airlines are equally impressive over 2015/2005, 0.27B/0.2B pr, 7.1B/6.8B pr-km, 6.1b/2.2B tons, 9.2T/4.9T ton-km and 436M/138M (M=million) pr, 728B/204B pr-km, 6.3M/3M tons, 20.8B/7.9B ton-km respectively.
China, since 2015, has made reform and innovation as her main focus to sustain her high growth rate. Propelled by the above infrastructure investments, China is now leading in high-speed railway, mega-project bridge and island construction and electric bus transportation technologies, exporting related products and services to other developed and developing nations. However, China is a big country with 1.4 billion people still having tens of millions people living under poverty line. The world is watching, can China sustain her growth to bring her entire population above poverty line in a few years? Can the Chinese government fulfill this Chinese Dream of bringing the entire nation to middle income living standard? The proof is not here yet, but the Chinese government is determined and the reform and innovation drive is very serious in China.
China has made major advances in the field of energy. China’s electric power industry is the world’s largest passing the U.S. in 2011. China has massive hydroelectric resources as well as the largest coal reserve in the world. Coal-fired electricity production still dominates China’s domestic electricity but it has declined since 2013 with a major push in renewable energy. China is leading in solar energy and her recent discovery and technology advances since 2012 in geothermal energy (HDR, hot dry rock underground) holds great promise. The geothermal energy found is equivalent to 856 trillion tons of coal which can generate 2.1 billion billion kwh of electricity. That reserve can support the U.S. electricity needs for nearly two million years. (Americans on average use 4000 kwh per year or the U.S. uses 1,200B kwh per year) In the agriculture area, China is exploring two other technologies. One is converting desert sand to irritable soil for growing vegetables and trees; the other is to grow rice in sea water. Both technologies will solve food supply issues in the world. According to World Bank data, China’s forest area has grown 22% from 1990 to 2015. Continuous innovations have been applied to prevent natural desertification.
What is most impressive in China’s innovation is its application in speed and scale. For example, the shared bicycle program took off like a rocket in many Chinese cities with a complete internet and GPS technology supported business model operating in a grand scale. Although, sometimes the fast entrepreneur business do run into problems, but the fast progress and experience gained are extremely valuable. They propel further innovation. Another application, Alipay or Zhifubao, using smart phone to pay for business transactions and transfer of funds, has penetrated deeply in the Chinese society. There are 400 million registered users for Alipay as of February 25, 2017 and there are 750 million Ecommerce users in China. No wonder, there is a saying for App developer or entrepreneur: If one could make it in China, one would make it in the world! Chinese are serious entrepreneurs; reform and innovation are definitely no joke in China.
Come with innovation are unexpected changes. For example, the packaged convenient noodle used to be sold by the hundreds of millions packs, now the business is dwindled simply because the efficient Internet delivered food services. The chewing gum was a big sales item at the check-out counter, now it is dead; since most people now use smart phone to pay for purchases. Interestingly, the pickpocket crimes in cities are vanished, simply because no one is carrying any cash in the pocket. China seems to be leading in face recognition for ‘pay with face’ application. If China could recognize 1.4 billion people’s faces, not only it would have commercial applications but it also could help fighting terrorism. The Chinese people seem to be more willing to accept innovation induced changes and innovation seems to become a normal way of life.
The revolutions brought on by innovations have been embraced by the Chinese masses causing more revolutionary innovations, a powerful cycle. Traditional businesses are forced to accept revolution or revolt. In China, the new definition of illiteracy is that one does not know how to handle smart phone applications and the new definition of generation gap is that two people’s Internet gadgets are three years apart. If you would travel to China once a year you barely could keep up with her innovations. China’s reform and innovation are no joke, indeed!