Business

Can China innovate?

Huawei smartphones in shop window Image copyright EPA

Made in China is a familiar phrase. China is the world's manufacturing giant but how long before Designed in China becomes the mantra? Can China innovate?

Are we close to, or have we even passed the point, where Chinese creativity is catching up with the US, Japan, South Korea and Europe?

The numbers are certainly in their favour.

Today there are more industrial researchers in China than in the whole of Europe. Within a decade, on current trends, there will be greater R&D investment in China than in the US.

Shenzhen has just surpassed Silicon Valley as the world's most prolific cluster for international patent applications relating to information and communications tech.

Huawei and ZTE are in the top five companies globally across all industry sectors by annual volume of international patent applications.

But what does all this frenetic activity amount to? Is the global centre of creative activity shifting towards China?

In a special month long season the BBC's Chief Business Correspondent, Linda Yueh, and China Editor, Carrie Gracie, will explore how far China is innovating across a range of sectors from medical research and pure science, through consumer technology to the creative world of fashion, film and art.