By Torie Bosch
|An office of the Chinese telecom company Huawei. Courtesy of STR/AFP/Getty Images
Last week, a House of Representatives committee issued a report warning the United States against doing business with two major Chinese tech firms, ZTE and Huawei. The companies were closely tied to the Chinese government, the report said, and could be stealing information from the U.S. government and American businesses.
Against that backdrop, Future Tense — a partnership of Slate, the New America Foundation and Arizona State Univ. — held an event called “Arms Race vs. Relay Race: What Does Innovation Hold for China?”
In opening remarks, Steve LeVine, Washington correspondent for Quartz magazine and a Bernard L. Schwartz fellow, established the questions for the day: Can China ever become an “innovation juggernaut,” just as it is a world leader in manufacturing? Does “innovation” have to mean breakthroughs, or is incremental innovation — small tweaks on Western-made technology to make it cheaper and sometimes better — enough? And should the rest of the world be worried?