Walking down any street within the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ), you are assailed with the gleam of burnished metal and the glitter of polished glass. An amazing architectural variety of gargantuan towers vie for supremacy of the sky and, with cranes nearly everywhere, their number is growing month on month. The names of China’s most recognizable brands sit atop the skyscrapers, proclaiming their success. To put it with stereotypical American vulgarity, the city looks like money. And, as they say, time is money; so it’s easy to assume that the city must have taken quite some time to get to where it is today. In reality, though, Shenzhen is a very young city. Before the SEZ was established in 1980 – because of its proximity to Hong Kong – Shenzhen was a “sleepy fishing village” with a population of 300,000. Times have changed.
The 14 million people whom today call Shenzhen home are – like the city – also young. According to the latest census data, the average age in Shenzhen is just under 30 years old, with 88.41% between 15 and 59 and 20% between 20 and 24. Those aged 65 and above account for just 1.22% of the population compared with nearly 10% for China as a whole. Youth – both of the place and the people that live there – is one of Shenzhen’s defining characteristics. The other is that very few Shenzheners were born in the city. Instead the city has embraced its migrant culture branding everyone that comes to the city a “Shenzhener.” We asked some of these young dreamers working in our branch office to share their experience of Shenzhen with Simply CSOFT.
Terence He – CSOFT Shenzhen Site Manager
I’m originally from Chengdu but was working in Beijing before moving to Shenzhen. I’ve been here for around a year now but I can tell you I’ve totally fallen in love with the city. It’s so different from other cities in China; the urban planning has been done really well and very thoughtfully; it’s convenient to go wherever you want, there’s been a ton of investment in infrastructure, and there are parks all over the city. It’s great. I think the greatest thing, though, is the spirit of entrepreneurship. It seems like everybody in the city is doing something, whether it’s running a Taobao store, a brick-and-mortar shop or trying to think of the next big thing. That’s really why I’ve fallen for the place.
Joe Xu – CSOFT Shenzhen Business Development Manager
I’ve been in Shenzhen a long time. More than 10 years, now. I started out here as a software engineer when the opportunities in Shenzhen were way better than anywhere else. I’ve stayed so long because of the city. It’s so young and passionate and it changes so fast. We used to call it “Shenzhen speed” – faster than anything else in the world. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to live anywhere else. Maybe when I’m very, very old I’ll move back to my hometown in Jiangxi but not for a long time. If I went back now, I’d feel like I was closed in. That’s the greatest thing about this city: freedom. You can be whoever you want to be in Shenzhen.
Tommy Chan – CSOFT Shenzhen Engineer
I came to Shenzhen 5 years ago from Hubei province. I had just graduated from university and I had very little experience of the so-called “real world.” I was amazed – I still am amazed – at how fast life here is. I’m still getting used to it. I feel like it’s a city where, if you’re really great at what you do, you’ll enjoy it. Otherwise, you just won’t be able to compete. There are so many people here working so hard, you have to be the best. And I think – I hope – Shenzhen is making me better every day.
Every city has its unique character, and as CSOFT continues to expand around the globe, we look forward to experiencing more of them so we can share them with you.
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