Welcome to Shenzhen: China’s tech capital

This week I have the wonderful opportunity to be in China and visit many of the important landmarks in the technology industry in the city of Shenzhen. It is a geek wonderland and at the very heart of the technology manufacturing hub in China (and the world) ““ the Pearl River Delta (PRD).
Shenzhen‘s history, like much of China, is an astonishing one of rapid growth and expansion. Just over 30 years ago this sprawling metropolis was nothing more than a small fishing village. Thanks to former Communist boss Deng Xiaoping‘s vision and some timely economic liberalisation, that village has now grown to a conurbation of over 15 million.
While many companies played a massive role in the tech revolution, the truth is that it was started by the Chinese manufacturing revolution which came via Hong Kong and Taiwanese investment.
“œThis first group of electronic manufacturers came from Hong Kong and Taiwan, they built factories and trained lots of local workers and engineers, who in turn built their own factories. In the past decade they‘ve really caught the market opportunity for making CDs, DVD players, games consoles, LCD TVs, feature phones and now smartphones,“ according to Gartner‘s Roger Sheng. “œVirtually any kind of electronics equipment can be produced in the Shenzhen area if you set up a factory. It‘s easy to find different kinds of components and engineers to make the devices,“ he added.
20150913_190500On the other side of the coin, in the early days it also developed the reputation that many parts (like semi-conductors and other chips) were imported and sometimes smuggled across from Hong Kong, where it went into the “˜grey market‘. These, in turn, are used to churn out large amounts of semi-legal products, with many complete counterfeits.
We will be exploring the various regions in and around Shenzhen in the week to come.
The travel to this side of the world was more harrowing than you would imagine. I had to fly Cape Town ““ to Johannesburg ““ to Singapore ““ to Shenzhen. The entire trip took about 23 hours (and we lost another six hours because of the time difference). Nonetheless, we are extremely upbeat and looking forward to the rest of the trip.
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