As of May 2014, I, Sean Upton-McLaughlin, have officially relocated to Shenzhen to continue my work with Chinese companies and executives, this time with a multinational Chinese firm in the ICT sector. From this new location I will continue to bring you, the reader and China enthusiast, new and useful insights into Chinese business, culture, and language through “the China Culture Corner.” As some of you may not be familiar with the city of Shenzhen, I have provided a brief introduction below.
A Short Overview of Shenzhen
The modern city of Shenzhen is, in effect, something made from nothing. Shenzhen does not possess the rich history and culture which many Chinese cities can lay claim to, and prior to China’s “opening up” possessed a relatively small population, around 30,000 in 1979. Following the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping took over the leadership of China and spearheaded China’s move toward market capitalism. Initially, Shenzhen served as the sole test bed for what were very new concepts to the China of that era, and its proximity to Hong Kong (right across the border) served as an effective mode to attract investment, both from Hong Kong as well as from overseas. In just three decades the population of Shenzhen grew to over 10 million (as of the last census), practically an overnight success.
Along with its population, Shenzhen’s economy also grew by leaps and bounds. Shenzhen began as and continues to be a center for low-cost manufacturing, though in recent years the city has begun branching out into new areas. Currently, aside from manufacturing, Shenzhen is also focusing on areas such as hi-tech, logistics, finance and culture. In fact, many now famous Chinese hi-tech firms are based in Shenzhen, including Huawei, ZTE, and Tencent. Several top Chinese banks are headquartered in Shenzhen (e.g. China Merchant’s Bank), and Shenzhen is also a busy container port.
Today, Shenzhen stands as one of China’s most prosperous metropolises, only falling short of megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. However, unlike many of China’s large cities, Shenzhen has a decidedly “green” feel to it, with a multitude of parks and green spaces, along with a visibly lower level of pollution than other Chinese cities.
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As always, I remain committed to raising and discussing issues that can help my fellow Westerners better understand China, including its culture, language, and business environment. To this end, I am always happy to receive feedback and article suggestions. If any of you has a specific issue you would like to see me write about, please feel free to contact me through the “contact info” page.
Best of luck to all of you with your own China adventures, and thanks for reading!