For many years I have shared my experience and analysis of China with others. It is based upon working to understand China’s long term sectoral goals. Failure to appreciate those plans can leave major companies stranded by change. There has been a tendency in the West to scoff at China as the innovator, especially as China lagged behind and stood in awe of western economic power and technology. Some complain about the methods China uses to acquire modern technology but they miss China’s longer plans to innovate.
I warned major car companies that an excessive love with the China market based on the combustion engine, which China did not have the technology for, would obscure China focusing on new low carbon options.
Now JLR and others are suffering from their short sightedness, their belief the car market would not change. They did not listen and suffer as the train companies in the USA suffered in the 1930’s by missing the emergence of plane based travel.
Not only has it changed in front of their disbelieving eyes, but it is now the modern car industry. China has copied the USA in using its vast market to resource innovation. The Electric car is based in China in their vast market. Their roads will be equipped to enable charging as you drive.
But this does not mean China will dominate and control new car production. It is just they are now at the forefront of automobile innovation, only a short few years after being the biggest car import market.
The return of China is among us and it is not based upon copying western technology. It is based upon innovating for a new era of a world facing climate warming and efficient use of resources.
The UK was to be an important base for Geely to develop electric vehicles but it appears that Brexit has affected those plans.
Our challenge is to find a productive way to work with China. We are in an era of suspicion about China. There is nothing wrong with examining China’s motives and moves. There is nothing wrong with caution as China breathes in change. But if we follow the path of negative thinking alone we may obstruct our own national development. When we get beyond Brexit we can spend time examining the China option and how to benefit from it safely.