First impressions of Shenzhen


I flew down from Beijing to Shenzhen today for a 48 hour visit to meet with colleagues at the University.  This evening my good friend Man Xu kindly took me for an exploration of this extraordinary city.  Until 1979 when it became China’s first Special Economic Zone, it was little more than a fishing village just to the north of Hong Kong.  Over the last 30 years, it has come to symbolise China’s energy and dynamism, becoming one of the fastest growing cities of the world.

Thanks to Jack’s suggestion, I took the opportunity to visit the digital rabbit warren that is Huaqiangbei, where you can buy everything, and copies of everything, electronic that you could ever want – apparently except any accessibility related hardware!  Given my interest in disability, we explicitly asked repeatedly whether there were, for example, any Braille keyboards or other assistive technologies, but no-one seemed aware that such things could exist.

And then we visited one of the smart new malls (MIXC), replete with numerous luxury stores rather putting London’s Bond Street to shame! The wealth that has accumulated here in such a short time, fueled by the city’s high-tech industries and banking sector is quite extraordinary.

Oh yes, and why is it that so many models on the advertising hoardings across China are ‘Western’ and blonde?

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2 Comments

Filed under China, ICT4D

2 responses to “First impressions of Shenzhen

  1. susan

    Braille keyboards can be found in Huaqiangbei. That your friend didn’t tell you about it’s because it’s not said in that way in Chinese,that you have to remind of other aspects–computers with braille keyboard,but not just braille keyboards.Of course there’s such thing to buy in Shenzhen,and other supporting facilities and tech here.It’s one of the two biggest electronic market in China,anything can be found,maybe you just need more details to describe what you want.
    Also,as the city representing fast economics growing of China,Shenzhen,in such a short time–30years can’t be perfect in every way.It started by building labor market to now–transfer to a high tech and designing city, it can’t go to far inthe last 3 decades to reach the peak,so,ads mostly show blond girls and else,is quite common,the local brands are not so many and not so mature so far.

    • unwin

      Thanks so much!!!! Will go back and look again! We did not only ask for them by name, but tried to explore all variants around the idea of assistive technologies for blind people. Please could you post details of the floor and location so next time I am here I can go and talk with the relevant people!! Much appreciated.

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