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China innovators seek to create the next Silicon Valley

Reporter: Mark Niu 丨 CCTV.com

09-07-2016 10:35 BJT

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick recently said that in the next five years there would be more innovation happening in China than in Silicon Valley. It's the stuff of water cooler talk in both Silicon Valley and China - but will it really happen?

His name is Bond, Bond Zhao.

And like the secret agent James Bond, this Bond loves gadgets, enough to have founded three tech-related startups since the age of 18.

His latest product is Linner, which he says is one of the lightest, most affordable earbuds with USB charging and noise cancelling across a wide range of frequencies.

"Most of the U.S. companies they have a good technology, but they commercialize it with a really high cost. With reasonable labor in China we can make stuff at a reasonable price. That's the point why I think China can surpass U.S. technology," said Bond Zhao.  

Linner still chooses to have a dual headquarters - one in Shenzhen, China and one in Silicon Valley, too, partly because launching on U.S. crowdfunding site Kickstarter helps them raise money well in advance of their product being ready. 

"In the U.S. we have the most early adopters. We can use the marketing in the U.S. The U.S. people, they want to appreciate the technology you bring, so they are willing to give you lots of time on manufacturing your new stuff," said Bond Zhao.

Bond also says another area Silicon Valley is way ahead of China in is Intellectual Property protection. He says when you know someone can easily copy your product it discourages many ideas from ever taking shape.

But imitation works in the other direction too, as U.S. tech companies play catch up with Chinese heavyweights like Alibaba and Tencent.

"Overall, in terms of technology, certainly Silicon Valley is the leader. But in the space of mobile Internet, especially in mobile payment and finance I think China is leading," said Shoucheng Zhang, founding chairman of Danhua Capital.    

Venture Capitalist and Stanford Physics professor Shoucheng helps bring Chinese investment to U.S. startups, which, in turn, helps those companies adopt a global focus that includes the China market.

"Because something is rather backward, it gives China the opportunity to leapfrog into the next generation of technology. So retail is controlled by a few monopolies, not very innovative. Overall e-commerce is a lot more in the daily lives of the common people in China. And that's partly because the density of the population makes e-commerce more efficient. Alibaba is already profitable where Amazon is hardly," said Shoucheng Zhang.

Zhang believes more U.S.-China crossover also helps bridge cultural gaps iting the example of Musical.ly, a lip-syncing app developed in China that launched in the U-S, where it hit number one.

So whether you call it imitation or inspiration-innovation is breaking barriers and crossing borderson both directions.

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