Carly Fiorina

Many Chinese Agree With Carly Fiorina’s Claim That China Can’t Innovate

Campaign trail criticism resounds with Chinese netizens

Carly Fiorina

Statements made in the US by Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina that Americans shouldn’t fear competition with China because Chinese are “not innovative or imaginative” have unsurprisingly become a thing on the Chinese internet.

Chatting with political blog Caffeneinated Thoughts, Fiorina said:

I have been doing business in China for decades, and I will tell you that yeah, the Chinese can take a test, but what they can’t do is innovate. They are not terribly imaginative. They’re not entrepreneurial, they don’t innovate, that is why they are stealing our intellectual property.

Fiorina went on to add that teaching innovation, risk-taking, and imagination “are things that are distinctly American and we can’t lose them.”

Fiorina’s stance on China was previously spelled out in her book, Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey:

Although the Chinese are a gifted people, innovation and entrepreneurship are not their strong suits. Their society, as well as their educational system, is too homogenized and controlled to encourage imagination and risk taking. Americans excel at such things , and we must continue to encourage them.

Carly Fiorina

Chinese versions of the article published shortly afterward quickly attracted attention. So what did the home of Alibaba, Xiaomi and WeChat have to say? Actually, they were largely in agreement:

There’s not a single word she said that isn’t wrong. She’s completely right! What’s more, this is just what I was saying twelve years ago.

Creative thinking has most definitely been a problem for Chinese education. Some people are too sensitive in considering these words to be an insult.

Fiorina is basically correct in saying that some parts of China’s systems are not conducive to technological innovation and development.

Not only is [Fiorina] not insulting China, but she’s giving China a free lesson. ‘Chinese are good at taking tests, but don’t have any imagination, entrepreneurism, or innovation.’ This is a fact. In my opinion, we need to find the source of this problem, for only then can this situation improve.

Right on the money! What else are Chinese good at besides cloning?

[Directed at other commentators] The enemy all know your weakness, how can you fucking pretend you don’t know this?

[Fiorina’s words] hit the nail on the head. How can these words be construed as an insult? There’s hope for those who change their ways if they don’t know enough, while the worst situation is someone who’s not willing to change if they need it. Writer [of the article], do you have a mental problem? Your mother is telling you to go home and take your medication.

Not a wrong word said.

[Fiorina] is right. As well, this exactly the reason why we Chinese have never once had one of our scientists win the Nobel prize.

Even though there are some problems to Fiorina’s argument, what she said is still a fact: Although Chinese are talented, their senses of innovation and entrepreneurship are not their strengths. Their social and educational systems overzealously pursue the homogenous development of its students who are over-managed and not encouraged to take risks or use their imagination.

Even since taking tests in elementary schools, displaying any creativity results in a wrong answer. Why let us imagine in the first place?

I don’t think that she’s insulting China, but that she’s pointing out where we can improve.

As the saying goes, ‘No culture, no worries, but a culture based on slavery is one of terrible crime and sin.’

Hard to hear, but true!

Carly Fiorina

A few spoke out against Fiorina, taking shots at her dubious track record as a CEO:

Since we Chinese lack imagination, who would have thought that one person would be able to so thoroughly topple two Fortune 500 companies – Compaq and Hewlett Packard –(from the inside)? (Who could have thought) these two world leaders in IT during the 90s would allow themselves to be utterly destroyed by this stupid woman? Who could have imagined someone with such poor leadership skills could run for the Presidency of the United States? This is all simply too much for the imagination of we Chinese. We welcome Sister Fiorina to come to China and apply to the administrative department for a position as a street cleaner!!!

Heehee, what about those times when you steal and rob scientists from China?

US citizens are rich in imagination? First in the world at ruining things is more like it.

[Remember a thing called] the Four Great Inventions of Ancient China? American IQ remains very low.

Some netizens went so far as to explain why there may be a lack of imagination and innovation in China:

If the people’s imagination and creativity isn’t restrained, then China will fall into chaos.

[Fiorina] is basically describing the image of our national civil servants.

I don’t feel it’s about a lack of innovation so much as it is about not having a spirit of adventure, and being under the worship of money.

And proving that there’s no lack of sarcasm in China:

I downright refuse to accept (Fiorina’s argument)! If Chinese all lack the ability to be imaginative, then explain to me how the life-changing inventions of hair soy sauce, shoe capsules, melamine milk, and gutter oil – each one amazing enough to make gods and devils to weep in heaven and hell – were all invented by the hand of Chinese people? Once again, I express my downright refusal to accept these words!

We sincerely hope this kind of person will be elected as the next President of the United States.

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor