The Consul General of the United States in Shanghai, Hanscom Smith, has emphasized the importance of openness and legal transparency in developing local innovation during his keynote at TechCrunch Shanghai. He made the comments in response to questions about the legal ecosystem for tech in China.

He also noted that the strong IP protection laws were paramount to supporting innovation, as well as legal predictability, saying that such laws are vital for creating innovation hubs.

“The US is a leader in IP law, and if you have a strong IP foundation… then you’re gong to help the infrastructure that supports innovation,” said Smith. “Openness to foreign investment, transparency, predictability and rule of law are important foundations.”

He also pointed to Silicon Valley’s embrace of risk as an important factor in the development of their innovation culture. “In America there is much less stigma to risk, failure is an accepted part of the process. In Silicon Valley, having failures is a badge of pride.”

Smith also mentioned there had been a mass of visa requests for the new 10-year China-US visas, which were introduced late last year. “We’ve seen an explosion in visa demands, about 1.8 million in Shanghai alone.” The visas were introduced to make travel easier for cross-border business ventures across all industries.

The US has been adding an increasing number of incentives aimed at promoting the China-US tech trade relationship. They have also introduced programs aimed at attracting American students to study in China, which Smith also mentioned during his talk.

Despite being periodically compared to Silicon Valley, China’s tech hubs still suffer from a perceived lack of innovative drive as well as poor IP protection.

Image Source: TechCrunch Shanghai 2015

Cate is a tech writer. She worked as a journalist in Australia, Mongolia and Myanmar. You can reach her (in Chinese or English) at: @catecadell or

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