One of the biggest complaints western companies have about the Chinese is that they are copycats. A western company releases a new product or concept one month and then the next month the Chinese are either announcing or releasing almost the exact same product under a different name and branded to meet Chinese pricing and customs. Are the Chinese simply trying to screw western companies or what is the logic to such scenarios?
Simply put, this behavior relates to their education. It’s not that Chinese are taught from a young age to copy, but rather are told due what you know can succeed. Additionally, the Chinese are conservative for the most part when it comes to taking risks on new ideas and technologies and do not emphasize as much as westerners about the so-called glory and importance of innovation.
From a Chinese perspective, they have been told to do what has been proven to work and stick with it in order to avoid economic issues and other potential negative side effects with failing. Since the west has a longer history of pursuing innovation and research related to technology and goods, which mainly is due to China’s tumultuous history that more or less paralyzed the country from moving forward economically throughout most of the 1900s, the Chinese have looked to it for ideas much like it did for ideas related to political reform such as Marxism etc. in the 1900s. China was isolated throughout that time period and this isolation has spread into all walks of life in China where people there have only just begun to gain perspective of the outside world and have the economic means to pursue education that teaches outside of the box thinking and technology development. This may seem like a long stretch, but it is reflected in their lives in many regards and the Chinese over many years have adjusted themselves to be reliant on outside ideas in order to spur their business ideas and China’s overall economy.
In a way, it is actually out of admiration that Chinese copy westerners because they see the products as something that has value and could succeed in China. What really gets to westerners though is perhaps the casual attitude Chinese take in pursuing such developments. Because the Chinese don’t think anything of this many westerners get angry, and get even further agitated when they see Chinese branding western-like product imitations but under some type of Chinese branding that prides itself on being a local product that is presented half the price than the western one due to cost advantages. Such strategies can be seen for Apple products like the iPhone and iPad. However, that is their strategy and rather than seeing it as some plot against western companies see it a Chinese attempt to make it in the global economy albeit questionable practices.
Lastly, saving face is also important for Chinese. Failure is one of the worst ways to lose face and most Chinese parents push their kids to take a conservative route in life by applying for jobs rather than trying to create their own businesses or develop products that may fail. Chinese parents are very worried about their children’s development given the competition in China and the nation’s history related to struggle so emphasizing education that points to successful examples related to all walks of life including business is the norm in China, which for better or worse, usually ends up as a “copycat” image of other nations’ progress or developments.