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Even with its booming economy and growing startup culture, many would say China still lacks innovation when compared to its Western counterparts. Alibaba founder and billionaire Jack Ma recently gave his reasoning for why China lags behind in innovation during his speech at a recent convention in Shanghai.
Here’s the excerpt from his speech:
Editors note: According to Tech in Asia, jiaoyu is a word made up of two characters. Jiao, means to teach and yu means to foster or nourish, referring to raising children.
“I want to talk with everyone about innovation. We often say that America and Europe are more innovative than us, that China’s innovation is not good and that the education [jiaoyu] system is to blame. Actually, I think China’s jiao is fine. The problem is with the yu. In terms of jiao, China’s students test better than anyone in the world, but yu is about fostering culture and emotional IQ.
“I graduated from Hangzhou Normal University, but if I’d gone to Tsinghua or Peking University I might be a researcher today. Because I went to Hangzhou Normal University, I got my cultural education [i.e. yu] by having fun. Kids who know how to have fun, are able to have fun, and want to have fun generally have bright futures. We jiao our kids, but we’ve lost the yu part.
“[Innovations] will only come regularly if we rethink our culture, our yu, our having fun, and our sports. Many painters learn by having fun, many athletes learn by having fun, many works [of art and literature] are the products of having fun. So, our entrepreneurs need to learn how to have fun, too.”
Ma basically says that while his home country’s education system is good, it’s not designed in a way where students are able to simply have fun and experiment. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and top EDM DJ Vice, two people who are very successful in their respective industries, have both said that you can’t innovate if you don’t break rules and experiment.
Lesson learned: Stop being so caught up in being a bookworm and following rules and actually learn to have some fun. You might be surprised at what you can create.