Those who think the rise in the Chinese economy can be safely ignored for a few more years or is restricted to cheap toys, sneakers and steel can think again. In 2005 the world’s top exporter of high tech products was not the United States, but China.
This was quite a landmark event, and something that technology companies need to consider carefully. China has become a major force in manufacturing, but is also starting to move into off-shoring. At this stage it lags India by a long way, but 1.2 billion people constitute an awful lot of potential programmers and engineers. At present India has the huge advantage that English is the most common second language, meaning that call centers and programmers can more easily pick up US software skills and communicate with western companies. Also there are far more established technology players in India, but this advantage will not continue forever. Napoleon once said “Let China sleep, for when it awakes it will shake the world” – after 9% economic growth rates for 20 years, it looks like the alarm clock has gone off.