The uncomfortable truth about tech in China
By Steve Kelman https://fcw.com/blogs/lectern/2017/02/kelman-china-innovation.aspx
Only recently, the general view in the U.S. was that the less-free Chinese system created a poor environment for tech innovation. Put somewhat simply, the argument was that in a society without our kind of freedom of speech or unrestricted access to communication such as the Internet, people would miss out on information and ideas that come from a free system and feel more psychologically constrained from venturing off the beaten path with innovative ideas. The Chinese would be limited, in this view, to knock-offs of U.S. technologies.
The government has also cracked down on use of virtual private networks that Chinese, especially young people, have used to “climb the wall” (i.e. find sites outside the “Great Firewall of China”). And recently, there were media complaints that at the top elite universities such as Tsinghua the anti-VPN policy was not being enforced strictly enough.
Clearly, though, Chinese progress has taken place despite these restrictions.
we should not naively assume that all good (or bad) things go together. Maybe freedom of political and cultural expression is not as important as we have thought for advances, say, in information technology. But it still might be more important for development of less technical or scientific ideas such as public policy proposals or cultural expressions.
more on virtual networks for civic activities