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What the world can learn from China’s innovation playbook, TED talk by Keyu Jin

Jin Keyu (金刻羽; born 13 November 1982) is a Chinese economist, associate professor of economics at the London School of Economics, and a World Economic ForumYoung Global Leader, specialising in international macroeconomics and the Chinese economy. Her research focuses on global trade imbalances, global asset prices and China’s economic growth model. Her research focuses mainly on international macroeconomics and the Chinese economy. She has made significant contributions to the understanding of China’s economic development, its integration into the global economy, and the implications of China’s economic policies on the international financial system.

In this TED talk, she explores why China has gone from technological scarcity to abundance. What sparked this shift? How China has fostered a model of innovation unlike any other and shows why understanding its competitive, collaborative approach could benefit the world — and perhaps demystify some contradictions.

The main points of her talk are:

  • The one-to-n innovations are just as important as zero-to-one new inventions. China is good at improving technologies incrementally. “Innovation isn’t just about inventing the next new thing, like the iPhone or 3D printing or sending people to Mars. It could be new applications, business models, better processes that lower costs. “whatever makes us leaner, cleaner and more productive, all count.”
  • The Chinese model of competition can be summarised as political centralization and economic decentralization. Local (Chinese) governments compete with each other fiercely to provide policies and means to encourage and support local companies to succeed – It’s the same model used to urbanize, to grow local economy and, now to innovate.
  • The US should take China’s innovation as a challenge to compete more rigorously. “Japan’s technological rise in the 1980s pushed the US to overhaul its innovation system and regain the lead in the 1990s, and as a result, we have cheaper and better products. Today, Chinese EV company BYD and Nio are pushing Tesla to new heights and vice versa. Tesla opted for a Chinese battery maker, which is pushing the German government to do more to compete. And it’s that mutual learning and constant threat of being overtaken that pushes the technology frontier further and beyond. But one thing’s for sure, true, it just doesn’t happen in geographical isolation.”
  • There are many areas in which the US and China can collaborate such as solving environmental problems and finding, for incidence, new cures for cancer or malaria etc.

“Keyu Jin is a fierce advocate for the coexistence of divergent worldviews, urging leaders to look beyond their own borders at different systems that might help bolster their own economies.”

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