The answer to this is complicated but in some ways, yes it is easier. The excerpted article below discusses exactly this.
About a year and a half ago, I discovered this $US12 “Gongkai” mobile phone (pictured above) in the markets of Shenzhen, China. My most striking impression was that Chinese entrepreneurs had relatively unfettered access to cutting-edge technology, enabling start-ups to innovate while bootstrapping. Meanwhile, Western entrepreneurs often find themselves trapped in a spiderweb of IP frameworks, spending more money on lawyers than on tooling.
Read the rest of this very interesting article on Gizmodo.