China’s investment in innovation has a heavy price

The average Chinese consumer does not fully understand the most powerful industry in the country. Speaking at COP26, Moncef Slaoui, one of the members of the Chilcot Commission on climate change, emphasized the advantages…

China’s investment in innovation has a heavy price

The average Chinese consumer does not fully understand the most powerful industry in the country. Speaking at COP26, Moncef Slaoui, one of the members of the Chilcot Commission on climate change, emphasized the advantages of innovation over strict, heavy regulation.

“Regulation is done in order to end disruption, not to enhance it,” Mr. Slaoui said.

He added that the Chinese government would have to “steer clear of debates about which cities and regions are most at risk” from climate change, instead attempting to increase incentives for innovation. “It is not a question of quantity, but of quality,” he said.

Looking at the situation from a fashion point of view, Mr. Slaoui cited some of the biggest power and innovation players in China: Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and JD.com.

China produces 45% of the world’s cotton and around 70% of its microchips. “Because of this, we have to be more efficient in where we move those cotton, fiber and semiconductor components,” he said. “It’s not about law. It’s not even about enforcement.”

The real power has shifted to the public: people know the stakes and are willing to take action.

“The Chinese people want to save the planet, not just save the environment,” Mr. Slaoui said. “There are too many things we should not lose today,” he added, including a tradition of innovation, smart cities and infrastructure development, as well as the “legacy of the First and Second World Wars, because the process of industrialization and urbanization was pretty messy,” he said.

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