China famously likes to boast of its “Four Great Inventions.” Namely: the compass, gunpowder, papermaking and printing. But now, the Middle Kingdom has its “Four Great New Inventions” to brag about. The only problem is that none of them were actually invented in China.
Recently, state media has been publishing and republishing an article about China’s brilliant feats of technological innovation. Based on a survey in which foreign students at the Beijing Foreign Studies University were asked which of China’s “inventions” they would like to bring back to their home country, the article from China’s official Xinhua news agency trumpets China’s so-called “four great new inventions in modern times,” which are: high-speed trains, e-commerce, mobile payments and dockless shared bicycles.
Look below as people from around the world are astonished by these incredible modernizations from China:
While China is unquestionably at the forefront of each of these movements, it does seem like a bit of a stretch to say that high-speed rail was “invented” in China when the first modern high-speed trains were zipping through Japan in the 1960s. Similarly, mobile payment systems were being developed in the United States in the 1990s and, obviously, online shopping was around long before Alibaba set up shop.
The only one of these four inventions where China may have a case is with shared bicycles. Of course, European cities have been operating bike-sharing schemes for decades, but China may be the first to do it “dockless” successfully. So, that’s something!
That China hasn’t really invented any of “four great new inventions” is more than a bit appropriate. While China may not be the inventor it once was, it unquestionably is the world’s greatest copycatter.
After CCTV tweeted about China’s “four great new inventions,” Twitter users were quick to point that out, causing the state media organization to delete the tweet. The post has been preserved on Chinese social media where netizens have also ridiculed state media for trying to claim ownership of other countries’ inventions.
“To me, it looks that Chinese state media is showing the rest of the world the government’s ignorance of intellectual property rights,” SCMP translates one Weibo user as commenting.
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