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?