Disruptors, Innovators, and Thieves

Assessing Innovation in China’s Digital Economy

The Chinese leadership has made clear that the digital economy and information and communication technologies (ICT) now underpins the country’s economic development. Consensus is forming around two main points. The first is China’s internet companies are no longer mere “copycats” or clones of western companies. The second is that Chinese internet companies are making a strong push to expand to global markets. This report demonstrates that China’s internet companies are at once disruptive innovators, micro-innovators, and copycats. It also demonstrates that trends in China’s digital economy are increasingly shaping US and global companies, and vice versa. Lastly, this report reviews policy challenges to innovation in China.