Eastern Courier : August 22nd 2014
8 EASTERN COURIER, AUGUST 22, 2014 NEWS www.stuff.co.nz Going up: Shenzhen has grown rapidly in just 30 years and continues to develop, with new skyscrapers and high-rise apartments being built all the time. Photos: TAO LIN Firsthand learning: Scholarship students fromNewZealand and Australia are taken through Huawei’s enterprise exhibition hall. Telco giant rolls out the red carpet Eastern Courier reporter TAO LIN spent a week in the thriving Chinese city of Shenzhen where she followed a group of AUT South students who travelled there as part of a scholarship with telecommunications company Huawei. She travelled as a guest of Huawei. The southern Chinese city of Shenzhen is the very definition of a modern-day boomtown. I was just 2 years old when my parents and I left the former fishing village to move to New Zealand. Two decades later, I return to a pulsing metropolis where luxury European cars idle by opulent hotels and more than 10 million people live among an everexpanding skyline. The city is China’s very first special economic zone, established in 1980 by former leader Deng Xiaoping as a way to open up the country to the rest of the world. The freer economic policies saw Shenzhen become a breeding ground for startups and businesses, with Chinese telecommunications company Huawei being one of the most successful. Founded in 1987, the com- pany now has products and solutions deployed in more than 170 countries. Sales revenues last year reached US$39.5 billion. Huawei has only been in New Zealand since 2005 but its reputation is growing rapidly. It’s partnered with all major telecommunications operators and is a key contributor to the government-backed ultra fast broadband and rural broadband projects. It’s also a major sponsor of the Wellington Phoenix football team. The tech giant has further cemented its presence in our country with a scholarship programme at AUT South, its first such relationship with a New Zealand tertiary institute. As well as $3000 towards study fees and a free Huawei mobile device, scholarship recipients get an allexpenses-paid trip to Huawei’s Shenzhen headquarters. A 20-minute drive from the centre of town, the campus is its own mini city. Go to eastermcourier.co.nz and click on Latest Edition to see a video tour of the training centre at Huawei headquarters. A shuttle is needed to run staff between 12 separate centres spread out over 1200 hectares. Huawei HQ has its own swimming pool, basketball courts, gym and on-site employee residences with 3000 rooms. It has places to eat as well, ranging from a large canteen to cafes catering to Western, Indian and Muslim tastes. That’s a good thing because all 40,000 employees take their lunch break at the same time every day. Account manager Florence Liu greets me on my first day and leads me downstairs to the exhibition hall, a sleek and shiny display of Huawei innovations. It’s the first rite of passage for all guests. About 20 groups visit the headquarters each day, Liu says. It’s the more the merrier because Huawei’s vision is huge. It already connects around one-third of the world’s population through its technology but it wants to reach the other two-thirds. The key to its success has been its extensive investment in research and development. Its 16 R&D centres worldwide employ around Welcome: A personalised message greetsmeat Huawei headquarters. 70,000 people, almost half the company’s staff. Financial investment into research and development amounted to US$5.4 billion last year. No cameras are allowed inside the 1 kilometre-long research and development building but I do get a look at some testing chambers used to ensure all gear can withstand conditions from extreme temperatures, high altitudes and electrocution to being submerged in water, dropped or set on fire. The AUT scholarship students have all seen this by the time I meet up with them. Compared to grappling with the nuances of the local language, our ventures through Huawei’s enterprise exhibition hall and the manufacturing centre are a breeze. The hall showcases Huawei’s newest business group, Huawei Enterprise, which launched in 2011. About 40 minutes away in industrial city Dongguan is Huawei’s Songshan Lake manufacturing centre. This is where some of the company’s more high-tech components are put together. We’re whizzed through the massive factory, past a small handful of its 13,000 employees and end up getting in the way of a selfmoving car that helps transport items through the centre. It erupts into a Chinese Great innovator: Above, the patent wall shows only a small handful of the patents Huawei has been granted so far. The company has filed more than 44,000 patent applications in China and has had 36,511 granted. Suit up: Left, all visitors – myself included – have to leave behind cameras and bags and don anti-static gear before entering Huawei’s manufacturing centre. Next level: A model of German football team Borussia Dortmund’s home stadium, which can seat more than 80,000 spectators. Huawei fitted out the stadium with advanced wifi technology which the audience can connect up to with their own devices during games. pop song to tell us to get out of its way. On our way out, I notice whiteboards displaying employee cards. Each person has an emoticon magnet next to their name to show how they’re feeling that day – happy, not happy or normal. Most cards show big toothy grins. It’s with a grin of my own that I bid farewell to Shenzhen. I jump in a cab and visit the suburb where it all began for me – a quiet seaside suburb called Shekou. My parents tell me there weren’t even proper roads there 30 years ago and now it’s decorated with high-rises and scaffolding. Hong Kong is visible from here and judging by the progress so far, it’ll only be a short time before Shenzhen’s bright lights match those of its glitzy neighbour across the river.
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