First Impression: The "Silicon Valley of Beijing"
Zhongguancun is a kind of technology hub that you could only see in Asia. It’s the type you might have seen in movies but can only imagine also exist in real life. I’ve spent hours exploring this electronic market area and only been able to scratch the surface.
It seemed for a while after I moved to Beijing that every time anything about technology was mentioned, that Zhongguancun was also mentioned. A friend wanted to buy a Samsung tablet, we can take a look at them at Zhongguancun. A classmate needed an electronic translator for Chinese class, I heard Zhongguancun has a good selection. A friend needed her broken iPhone screen repaired, they can fix it at Zhongguancun. A friend’s camera is old and he wanted to replace it…Zhongguancun. You get the picture.
When I first emerged from the Beijing subway at Zhongguancun, I didn’t know where to look. There was a seemingly endless amount of tall buildings with billboards advertising every IT producer that I knew and more. My friends and I chose to explore one of the buildings closest to the subway exit so to escape the summer heat as soon as we could. Most buildings I explored are filled with stalls containing every sort of gadget imaginable, floor after floor are stalls selling anything related to the lose field of technology. It’s a maze through the stalls and easy to lose the friends you came with when you get distracted with a cool little contraption.
Zhongguancun doesn’t stop at electronic markets though. It’s called "Silicon Valley of China” and home to the most important players in the industry. The area called Zhongguancun Scientific and Technological Garden is home to “more than 8,000 hi-tech enterprises, over 50 percent of which are IT enterprises” according to China.org.cn. This website also reports that “23 world-famous transnational corporations, 4 of the top 10 international software companies, and 43 of the world's 500 most powerful enterprises have established their research, development, and production branches” in this NW area of Beijing. It’s also not far from the university district that houses the best universities in China, which seems no coincidence because these schools tend to produce the next generation of employees for these top companies.
When trying to find the best way to describe Zhongguancun, the Chinese term “热闹” comes to mind, translated as bustling with noise and excitement. I think "The Silicon Valley of Beijing" is one of those places that continues to surprise and excite its visitors, as well as inspire them with daydreams of tomorrow’s technology.