Explaining why Chinese scientific discoveries didn't flower into a scientific revolution, Levenson wrote, "It is not because their forebears were constitutionally unable to nurture a growing tradition of science, but because they did not care to."
Science had no social prestige, he says, and it would never have occurred to traditional Chinese scholars that kudos was to be gained from claiming discoveries or inventions. The ancients didn't turn such inventions into world-changing technologies, so why should we?
China Road page 105
Seems plausible to me