When China’s GDP growth downed from double digits to 7 something percent last year, it signaled China’s economy is slowing down. Increasing labor cost and tightened regulations slowly expelled the labor intense industry out of China. Similar to what happened in Taiwan in the late 90’s and throughout 00′, China needs to transform its labor intense industry to high-tech industry. Unfortunately, Taiwan failed the transformation, and is suffering the consequences, low job growth and stalled salary. Will China follow Taiwan’s step and fail the challenge? Very likely.
As an interior designer, my job can not be classified as high-tech, but it is not hard to predict why China will fail the economy reform to transform its economy by observing how the interior designers operate in China. When interior designers start to work on a new project and prepare for client presentation, unlike what we do in the States, we research the available materials and start to sketch out the ideas, Chinese interior designers look for project photos on the design magazines or websites, and then copy with minor tweaking the designs from the photos they found. Why do they do that?! Isn’t it violating the copy rights and professional ethics, or at least personal integrity? No, not to Chinese designers. In fact, they are encouraged to copy others’ design ideas, why? well, because the clients in China love to rush. If you think some clients in the US like to rush to get things done, the clients in China are 1000 times worse. If a project needs 1 year to complete in the States, it will be completed in China in 3 months. Super fast work flow forces Chinese designers to work overtime constantly, under the pressure, it becomes luxury for designers to have time to be creative and think about the ideas of their own. Long working hours also impairs the designers’ ability to innovate. Therefore, most of interior design ideas in China are copied.
Ok, no big deals, right? just copy an interior design idea! so?! people still make money! Well, Chinese high-tech workers work the same way! cell phone companies, automobile companies, computer companies, website companies, and defense insdustry….These high tech companies copied whatever from foreign companies without creating their own indigenous high technology, so they will always lead from behind.
When the US built the stealth fighter jets like F-22 and F-35, China followed and also built J-20 stealth fighter jets with lots of “borrowed” technology and designs. Many of you might think “see! China is strong and advanced! They can also build stealth fighter jets!” but for me , the real strong country is the one that came up with the idea – “stealth” at the first place. Now, the United States is the only country in the world has operational stealth fighter jets in service and maintains the air superiority. Innovation makes the United States lead.
So, if Chinese clients do not change the way that they want everything done by yesterday, excessive over-time working will keep impairing Chinese workers’ innovation and creativity, and China’s economy reform will be doomed to fail.