Located just an hour drive north from Central Hong Kong, Shenzhen (in Guangdong Province) was the first (and most successful) “Special Economic Zone” in China. This special status allowed western industrialization — more than US$30 billion in foreign investment has gone into both foreign-owned and joint ventures initially in manufacturing but more recently in service industries as well. One of the fasted growing cities in the work, it is a teaming with a population of 15 million — and all of the traffic that goes with a population that expands faster than infrastructure. Because of its proximity to the capital markets, legal system and economic stability and diversity of Hong Kong, Shenzhen is the logical first step for many foreign companies into China. Shenzhen is home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, is one of the busiest container ports in China, and has the headquarters of numerous high-tech companies. Once established in Shenzhen through a representative office, use of a contract manufacturer, or operation of a factory, moving further into mainland China is the next step.
Despite being in Shenzhen for less than 24 hours, I met both with colleagues at HLB Wu Zhou Song De and with a client. I saw two offices and toured my client’s R&D and Quality Control operations. One cultural business difference I learned was of “rest time” over the lunch break. Chinese workers are given about half an hour to rest after lunch. In one office, this meant turning off the overhead fluorescent lights and literally putting your head on your desk to relax. In another office, space was found for ping-pong tables, and office-wide tournaments are held daily.
HLB Wu Zhou Song De in Shenzhen has worked with over 35 Chinese publicly traded companies. The firm has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years — what in China hasn’t?
To my eyes, Shenzhen had all of the energy of Hong Kong, without the upscale retail shops and overly expensive hotel rooms.