(photo credit: Steve Clemons)
Flying from Xian to Beijing this week, I spotted the books above at the airport book shop. They were the marquis offering in the place -- front, center of the store. On my plane, three Chinese folks carried the Chinese version of Walter Isaacson's illuminating biography of the iconic Steve Jobs; two in economy class, one business.
In Beijing, billboards advertising Isaacson's book appear at many bus stops (I've seen a lot from our bus window). And amongst those my colleagues and I have spoken to, the Chinese seem to be asking themselves and discussing whether they could ever produce a Steve Jobs.
I'm not sure whether even the US can easily produce another Steve Jobs -- though I instinctively feel that America generally allows for the emergence of brilliance more than China. Nonetheless, after a few days meeting a few of China's IT entrepreneurs, I think the gap between the US and China on this front is narrowing.
But one of the things I find odd is that the Chinese basically have a person who is their Steve Jobs. I don't mean someone who created a line of products that we have all become addicted to and which have changed our world -- but rather a leader who saw a future, went against the tide, and used the levers of influence he had to gamble on a complete retro-fitting and relaunch of China. I'm talking of course about Deng Xiaoping.