Tom Doctoroff

Innovation is lagging, says most China experts, although the subject is high on the political agenda. Author Tom Doctoroff of “What Chinese Want” is equally harsh in Forbes. The Chinese won’t deliver on innovation.


In China, said Tom Doctoroff, author of the book “What Chinese Want” and a China marketing guru at J. Walter Thompson, managing a fake Apple store, or any kind of fake this or that, is heralded as good ole fashion entrepreneurship.

“When it comes to innovation, the Chinese won’t deliver,” he told me in a phone interview back in mid-May. “China is the total flip-side of the U.S.  Piracy goes back to the China world view that individual rights don’t matter.  The courts have never evolved to protect innovative individuals. There is still very much the ethos that economic growth has to be managed, so individual and intellectual property, where the spoils go to one entity or one person, is not a cultural value,” he said…

Government censorship polices further complicate matters because they increase the demand for contraband content. Even if the Communist Party liberalizes distribution restrictions, per WTO regulations, censors will sanction only a narrow range of content in legal channels, both online and in actual stores.  This begs the question of Chinese censorship and what is and is not allowed, Doctoroff said. In his book, he writes:

“As in dynastic times, anything inconsistent with the government’s role of promoting a harmonious society will be prohibited. Notably, groups must never seek to become alternative centers of authority and challenge the party, and explicit or extramarital sexuality is always banned. The latter is driven by both the sensitivities of a generally conservative population and the government’s patriarchal responsibility to protect the moral standing of the masses.”

More in Forbes.

Tom Doctoroff is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

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