China IP

When Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, was picked up by Canadian police on allegations of breaching US sanctions against Iran she was carrying an iPhone, a MacBook Air, and an iPad Pro, this according to Bloomberg News. 

Embarrassing for Huawei? Hell yes. Surprising to anyone else? Hell no. Important to those who do business in China? Well yeah….

Many years ago I spoke at a webinar where one of my fellow speakers mentioned having just returned from China (I later learned for the first time) and noting that “China was already making SUVs as good as anything made here in the United States.” I remember immediately thinking the following:

  1. Wrong.
  2. Not for another twenty years, if ever.
  3. This is a country that cannot make good transmissions and cannot make a good ballpoint pen. China did subsequently make a ball point pen all by itself, but that was not until 2017. See Finally, China manufactures a ballpoint pen all by itself.

As much as people keep saying China is “catching up” or as already caught up or will pass countries like the United States or Germany or Japan or Korea in product quality, it really has not done so and it may never do so. Yes, China makes some great products at great prices — see China Product Outsourcing: Be Like Anker, where I wrote an ode to Anker products. But, does China make the absolute best in breed of any product, regardless of price? I honestly cannot name one, but I also know that does not mean there are no such China product leaders. Are there? If you know of some, please mention them in a comment below.

All this matters because it goes a long way towards explaining why China is reticent about opening its market fully to foreign competition and because it helps explain why China — which desperately wants to lead on the world stage — is so willing to engage in IP theft to achieve that. See One in Five U.S. Companies Say China Has Stolen Their Intellectual Property.

What are you seeing out there?

UPDATE: I forgot to mention e-cigarettes, which was pioneered in China and, near as I can tell has been wholly dominated by China ever since. As you can see by the two comments so far, China is also viewed as a leader in drones.