Re-innovation and China's 'home-grown' supercomputer
China's newest supercomputer, Tianhe-2, is a formidable piece of equipment. With over three million CPU cores it's almost twice as fast as its US rival, Titan. But while the Chinese media gave full credit to China for this 'independently developed' technology, many users of the Chinese social media platform Weibo questioned whether a system built on US designed chips can really be classed as a Chinese innovation.
The Chinese concept of 'introduce, digest, absorb and re-innovate' seems to be at play here, whereby a foreign technology is absorbed, improved and then claimed as a home-grown Chinese innovation. This process can be seen in all of the technologies that China is most proud of, including its high speed rail network, nuclear reactors and the Shenzhou spacecraft.
It makes a lot of sense for China to develop its technologies in this way, because as Fred Hu of Primavera Capital noted at the Boao Forum in April, it would be foolish for China to try and reinvent the wheel and not take advantage of 200 years of western industrial development.
Of course, many governments around the world complain about this process. But with the huge amounts that China is investing in R&D, it might not be too long until we start to see cutting edge technologies coming out of China and developed countries adopting the absorb and re-innovate concept for themselves.