Abstract Programming and GPL Enforcement
It seems obvious to you that your "simple economics" is correct, equally obvious to others that it is directly opposed to common sense.
I make no judgement one way or the other.
But I do want to point out that your example is very weak.
Even to the extent that the lack of software development in China is related to the strength of "intellectual property" controls there, it can not be considered in isolation. Perhaps if they did not have all that marvelous software to import and copy from the USA, they would write their own, even in the absensce of IP enforcement.
Also; it is far from clear that the reason for Chinese people on average produce very little computer software isn't simply that they don't have the kind of pervasive computing infrastructure that we in North America enjoy. Something like >50% of American homes have at least one PC in them. I doubt China can make the same claim.
The analogy to barriers to entry in heavy industry also fails. "Historically", if what you suggest is true, there has been no barrier to plagiarism. What you describe is a barrier to production. Software is different in that it is being treated as a product, not a means of production.