How does Chinese tech stack up against American tech?

AMERICANS, and friends of America, often reassure themselves about its relative decline in the following way. Even if the roads, airports and schools continue to slide, it will retain its lead in the most sophisticated fields for decades. They include defence, elite universities, and, in the business world, technology. Uncle Sam may have ceded the top spot to China in exports in 2007, and manufacturing in 2011, and be on track to lose its lead in absolute GDP by about 2030. But Silicon Valley, the argument goes, is still where the best ideas, smartest money and hungriest entrepreneurs combine with a bang nowhere else can match.

Or is it? American attitudes towards Chinese tech have passed through several stages of denial in the past 20 years. First it was an irrelevance, then Chinese firms were sometimes seen as copycats or as industrial spies, and more recently China has been viewed as a tech Galapagos, where unique species grow that would never make it beyond its shores. Now a fourth stage...



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