Understanding China’s wayMinister of Science, ICT and Future Planning Choi Yang-hee visited Beijing last month hoping to find common ground between the Park Geun-hye administration’s “creative economy” and Xi Jinping’s “innovative economy.” Seoul and Beijing use different terms, but both essentially have the same goal: sustainable growth through innovation. Did Choi find a way to work with the creative economy in China? To find out, we need to look at two meetings he had while there. The first was a meeting with Korean entrepreneurs in China at Zhongguancun, China’s Silicon Valley, on Dec. 19.
Choi said he had asked the Chinese authorities to give special attention to Korean start-ups. Tecreate CEO Ahn Seung-hae said that China’s Internet technology has already surpassed Korea’s level in 2008. “My IT knowledge has already become obsolete, but many Koreans still don’t understand the discrepancy,” he said.
“Why do you think China’s Internet technology is more advanced?” asked Minister Choi. SnO Investment CEO Oh Byung-un replied, “China is a big country with old distribution systems, so it needed to develop the Internet. Korea should pursue the Internet-oriented way soon.”
Later in the afternoon, Minister Choi met with Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun.
Choi asked what Korean venture companies needed to do to enter the Chinese market. Lei Jun said that “Internet thinking” is the hot issue.
Robin Li, the founder of China’s biggest Internet portal Baidu, used the term “Internet thinking” when he predicted changes in the ecosystem of the Internet industry in 2011. Today, his idea is considered the innovative bible of Chinese corporate management. The modern world is in a commercial democratic era where producers and consumers are connected through the Internet in an open, collaborative relationship, and businesses need to adapt to the environment.
Lei Jun said that Baidu is organized horizontally with a CEO, team leaders and team members. The company hires employees that it can trust, and does not hold them back. Employees at Baidu are allowed to work flexible hours and dress freely.
China’s young entrepreneurs already proposed the way of “Internet thinking,” and are responding to the changing environment and innovative economy. But Korea is still not aware of the changes. Jack Ma of Alibaba has become the richest man in Asia, and Lei Jun’s Xiaomi has the largest market share in China. The “creative economy” is said to be a pace-setting paradigm shift toward imagination. But it is the economy of concept that we have been hearing for decades. And Minister Choi knows it, too.
The author is the Beijing bureau chief of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 23, Page 38
by CHOI HYUNG-KYU