Kudos for USITO – the United States Information Technology Office – representing US ICT industry interests in China. Talk about a tough job. A trade organization supported by 5 U.S. parent associations, this outpost of American capitalist interest is fighting the good fight for U.S. ICT companies in a distant and less than friendly locale. USITO Managing Director Matt Roberts detailed key Chinese ICT policy objectives at yesterday’s session at TechAmerica in Santa Clara, CA, as well as their organization’s mission to try to give U.S. companies a fair shake in an inwardly-obsessed market.
Given several expert sessions I’ve attended on China, and my own limited observations, I conclude that China seems to feel (whether rational or not) under seige, and will do anything to defend and better itself. I find this interesting, as the developed world feels under seige by them. Despite explosive economic growth in urban areas, the country is over-crowded, badly polluted, has massive socio-economic disparity and is behind much of the rest of the world in terms of economic maturity. WTO membership is forcing them to confront international standards and expectations for fair trade – that does not include things like software piracy, exporting toxic products, poor quality and bribery as a way of business life. However, these problems are rampant in China. As the country aggressively pushes toward continued expansion (9-10% GDP for several years now), more responsible and equitable global engagement is going to be a requirement. This need is pitted against a frenetic internal culture of self interest, self promotion, and short term gain – all underpinned by the Communist Party obsession with remaining in power.
U.S. ICT vendors are often burned by China’s disrespect for IP rights and stringent policies that significantly impede market entry or growth. And yet most keep pushing into this huge market, hoping for just a piece. Mr. Roberts suggests that when U.S. companies win in China — despite the barriers — it is because of technological and product superiority. When it has to be right, people anywhere are willing to pay for quality. With China’s clear ambitions to peer level status (or better), it behooves U.S. to keep up both the quality and innovation that will drive the world leadership position – of course STEM education is critical here, but that’s a discussion for another day.
I can’t help but wonder how many American ICT vendors are aware of USITO and its efforts on their behalf. I am not affiliated with that organization – but may I suggest that donations might be appropriate?