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Will We Ever See Another Four Great Inventions From China?

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China’s Four Great Inventions—papermaking, the compass, gunpowder, and printing—were innovations from bygone eras. When looking at China’s history over the past 50 years, it’s very difficult to find a single innovation that has made a significant impact on the world. Instead, the “Chinese version of something Western” phenomenon has characterized much of China’s recent product launches. For example, there is Taobao.com, which is essentially the Chinese version of eBay. Whether China can shed its copycat reputation and become a source of global innovation has become a constant source of debate. While the country’s economy has been growing at an astonishing rate, with an increasingly sophisticated domestic market, the country’s highly centralized government and weak intellectual property system have severely hampered China’s standing as a global innovator.

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