Michael Moran: While China excels at building and even incrementally improving established product lines like GM’s Buicks and countless other Western and Japanese goods manufactured there, it has struggled to innovate. Even in 2010, the year China officially overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy, no Chinese brand could viably be called a household name in any Asian market, let alone in the wider world. The annual global branding study by the market research firm TNS found in 2010 that, while consumer brands from Denmark, Finland, South Korea, and Switzerland make the top 20, no Chinese product or brand appeared in the top 1,000.
……China can claw its way up the value-added food chain and move its companies beyond the goal of building a better, cheaper Buick and into the high-end, high-margin markets for software, aerospace, robotics, and sophisticated engineering currently dominated by the United States, Europe, and Japan. But the progress to date has been almost impossible to measure, and the country’s substandard educational system, demographic and political challenges, and corruption suggest that this will be more of a Long March than a Great Leap Forward.