Just the other day I was having a conversation with another person while drinking tea, and thinking to myself how good the tea tasted. But what if the tea had tasted bad? Yes you can have good conversation with bad tea, but good tea can certainly add a lot. If I had a choice between having excellent food (three meals a day), and excellent internet service, what would I pick? Well, I limped along on a 56k modem until just a couple years ago, so I might just pick the food! So being the best country at making tea is actually a pretty good feather for one's cap. And I suspect that a country that can produce good quality tea will also be able to, when the time arises, make good semiconductor products. Doing something well lends itself to many enterprises.
What ingredients does it take to make a good semiconductor company? I think freedom is one ingredient. So part of TI's success may trace itself back all the way to the Alamo. And there is also the notion of "quest". Being able to freely follow some strain of thought where it leads. In TI's case, it has lead to a proliferation of semiconductor products. In HP's case, it went from test and measurement in a garage to optoelectronic and semiconductor products and printers and pcs. In surfer jargon, these companies "caught a wave" and rode it.
But making good tea is also a pretty important role to play in our world. Just ask th English!
Often the nature of society dictates this. Although it is now supposedly open and no longer a Communist country, the fundamental nature of mistrust is built into a communist society where suspecting every other person to be an agent is second nature.
For example, when we were selling SLC (Subscriber Loop Carrier) products to several countries, we had a uniquely different problem with China. All other countries would tell us the supply chain, who bought it, where it was deployed and provided contacts. We could dial into that machine and get its health related parameters. The information was used generally to improve the next generation design.
Only in the case of China, it went into a black hole. A Govt agency bought it wholesale - No clue of where and whether it was deployed and no information on how it was doing. No contacts, nor related info. This is was a uniquely perplexing situation (to us from this end, as a product house). I am sure TI if they supplied chips to China, would experience the same. Therefore, to expect China to compete is not practical since there is no "two-way communication".
I think the innovation culture has not yet mature in China so it takes some long time for Chinese to catch up the west. The education fundamentally is different. The whole 5000 years of education system is not creating good entrepreneur but officers that obey the king while science is not treasured by the country for very long time so generations by generations Chinese are not cultivated in an open space of creativity and innovation. Without good innovation culture it is very high to go for hi-tech! Well, although the Chinese now are more exposed to the western lifestyle and more Chinese are educated the western way, it still takes some time for the whole culture to change!
I think they have more fundamental problems such as trust and free communication infrastructure.
My understanding is that design teams are isolated and information does not flow freely, due to a state that is very restrictive.
The reason is Nature. Most of the why most ? almost all of the technology born in the western countries and all the other especially eastern countries follow this. My personal idea is this is because of the food grown in that part of the earth and the consumption by the people in their respective places plus the cosmic radiation to that part of the earth.May be after a few more centuries the scenario may change.