Summary of From "Copy to China" to "Copy from China"

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The founders of Meituan and Weibo imitated American products Groupon and Twitter, respectively, when they first started out, but have since moved beyond those models. These days, Facebook and Apple are incorporating elements of Chinese messenger app WeChat. Other Western tech companies are looking to China for inspiration for bike-sharing businesses, photo editing apps, consumer drones, and more. In her blog Business and Life, finance reporter Zhu Xiaopei explores China’s move from being the country of copycats to being a leader in innovation. getAbstract recommends this article to those who still view China as the “knock-off nation.”

About the Author

Zhu Xiaopei is a blogger and senior financial reporter at Business World and a columnist at She independently runs the blog Business and Life.



In the early days of the Internet, entrepreneurs in China didn’t consider copying from Silicon Valley and importing business concepts as shameful. Direct copying of successful models didn’t guarantee success though. China’s large population and market size allowed for rapid development, but because everyone imitated, the competition was intense. Also, China’s Internet market environment is vastly different from that of Silicon Valley, and to many companies, the specifics of China’s market presented major stumbling blocks. For example, none of the numerous companies that launched LinkedIn clones in China succeeded.

Those copycats that achieved success were brilliant at localization. The earliest Internet companies that “made it” differed from their Silicon Valley models in terms of site construction, service promotion and platform...