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China’s New Creative Class

Interesting piece in Fast Company about the projected rise of China’s creative industries, challenging the idea that the Chinese will be content to “stamp out a widget, or knock off a DVD” while the West (spearheaded of course by Cool Britannia) leads the world in creativity.

China is not content to serve as factory to the globe. Call it economic foresight, or cultural pride, but despite the stratospheric growth of its economy–10.7% last year–China knows that cheap labor alone can’t sustain the boom. While a flurry of activity (and, yes, a government five-year plan) has stressed scientific and technological innovation, look a little closer and you’ll see that creativity in art and industry–in design, fashion, media, and the like–is fast becoming a driving national mission.

The article has plenty of awful puns about ‘cultural revolutions’ but also some fascinating examples of Chinese creatives doing amazing work in architecture, fashion, design, music etc. Judging by some of the comments on the online version, there’s some debate about the significance of these examples, but it’s a worth looking at the article. Apart from the intrinsic interest of the subject, it’s a good antidote against the lazy assumption that the West will enjoy an indefinite ‘creative advantage’ over the BRIC nations (not to mention the rest of the world).