Imitation is the best form of flattery, and that is why it is not always a bad thing to be a copycat. After all, the businesses that tend to be attracting the most investment in China are so-called copycat start-ups. And why not? If a model can be transfered from one country to another, do it.
On the other hand, many critics of the Chinese economy describe what they see as at best a lack of creativity, and at worst a culture where dishonesty wins. If you are afraid that someone is going to steal your ideas, you are not incentivized to share knowledge, and it is therefore not surprising that innovation is stagnant.
And yet, one field that defies the conventional wisdom is the aerospace sector, where China has made steady advances under a veil of secrecy. The Chinese space program has recently hit some significant milestones -- a manned docking mission that sent the first woman to space. What does this say about where this industry will be headed? What does this also say about the nature of copycat innovation, and how a country can evolve to become a global leader?