Remember what I said in 100 Things You Hate About Foreigners in China:
42. Do not fool those stupid Chinese with sentences like these: China is a country with 5,000-year history, actually, it was used to fool you, haha. Because most of Chinese people do not read history books after they left school.
5000-year history is true and unique, Chinese people can be very proud of it, it is absolutely no question about it.
OK, I talked about Needham Problem (The Needham Question), if you are interested, you can Google to know more. Because your question are the same as Dr. Needham concerned for long time and resulted in the famous volumes of Science and Civilisation in China
There are no direct relationships with long history and leadership in innovation. It is very simple reason that heritage interruption can occurred during the history.
Especially, the Ming Dynasty still leaded the world, but China lagged behind after the Qing Dynasty. There are evidences that the Renaissance in Europe has some relationship with China's technology and other innovations, but we can put them aside.
One important fact is that you can not invent or innovate from scratch, just like U.S., it inherited all its civilization from the European and carried forward it, especially, during the late 19th century and the early 20th century, U.S. learned and assimilated
all European technologies and attracted all top talents from all around the world because of World War I and II. China also cultivated some top innovative talents, such as SS. Chern (Wolf Prize Winner in Mathematics), CN. Yang (Nobel Winner in Physics) in
old days. But I believe you can expect more innovations in sciences, technologies and other fields in the next decades, because time matters for this country and people.
As for me, I agree that the "Needham question" is a counterfactual hypothesis, because I believe if only you love something and devote yourself to it, then you can make achievements in your areas, but in today's China, most people only care about more money
and more benefits, but innovation needs more energy and a concentrated heart, if you ask someone to devoted all his time to study complicated mathematics, physics and other sciences, he will think about the trade-off with money; if you ask about she or he
to do boring research about history, philosophy, sociology and other social sciences, she or he will ask the value these researches will bring to himself. Do not believe those altisonant reasons such as politics, salary and other excuses. Do you know Poincaré's
Conjecture, which was solved by a Russian mathematician Perelman, he only earned 100 dollars per month. From the perspective of politics, economy and social condition, if China is not better than Russia, at least will not lag behind Russia too much.
If you talk about excellence, someone will tell you she has more money than you, that' more important than innovation, hehe. By the way, Asraroth, if you are poor and do not own an apartment in Beijing and you are Chinese, you will be a shameful loser, haha
You are an guitarist, therefore, you can continue Needham Problem research to give us a convincing answer.