SINGAPORE, Mar 23, 2007 - We arrived in Shenzhen from Shanghai late at night on March 22. Except for a different airline (China Southern instead of China Eastern), it felt like another deja vu trip (see Shenzhen, Oct 2006). But that's where the similarities stopped.
My business meeting this Friday morning was with Huawei executives. Never heard of Huawei? That's your loss. For, this vibrant $11.6 billion-company epitomizes the future of China and the future of Asia. It's every bit as modern and technologically advanced as anything you will ever see in Silicon Valley.
Since Huawei is a global telecommunications leader, its slogan is: "To enrich life through communication."
Huawei's sprawling campus stretches over six city blocks...
Just like the best of breed corporate campuses in the U.S., it includes carefully manicured lawns in a park-like setting.
Here is the main security gate. Since the Huawei business is built on R&D (48% of its 61,000 work force work in R&D), security is heavy. We were constantly being checked and rechecked as we moved from building to building. It felt more like Langley (CIA headquarters) than a business campus.
After our business meeting was over, I was given a tour of Huawei's large exhibition center that showcases its technology (above). This was one of the few areas where taking photos was okay, so I took some...
The vast array of products the company has developed since its founding in 1988 was testimony of the American Dream being supplanted by a new Chinese Dream. Even the very name of the company is patriotic. "Hua" means China in Chinese. "Wei" stands for capability or power. So Huawei's name as well as its achievements symbolize the new China Power. One can almost actually "see" how China becoming the world's dominant power in the 21st century through companies like Huawei.
Inside the presentation center, the company has constructed what looks like a Polyneasian village...
Except that it's not, even though all the wood was imported from and crafted in Bali.
This is supposed to be Huawei's vision of a "wired village." It's full of electronic gadgets that are connected together using Huawei's technology, even in the above open air bedroom.
The only thing missing from the village was PEOPLE. Maybe they were supposed to walk out of virtual images on its many TV and computer screens?
By the time my visit to Huawei ended, it was just before noon and time to head for Hong Kong by a car that had come for me from Hong Kong. Along the way, one could see many examples of giant billboards that advertise anything and everything...
...from residential developments, such as the one above...
...to this enormous billboards that spans all 12 lanes of a major freeway. This one is advertising a golf resort.
The traffic was fairly heavy, being a Friday afternoon, even though we were still far from the real rush hour.
As we passed through downtown Shenzhen, the trees were in full bloom - with both lotus flowers and orchids enjoying the warm spring weather.
"It feels pretty warm out there," I remarked to the driver at this point.
"Warm?" he replied. "No! It's hot." He pointed to the dash thermometer which was showing 31C (about 85F). And they are still three months away from the start of summer here!
And then we arrived at the China-Hong Kong border crossing.
More billboards... for a last minute chance to sell a traveler something.
Leaving China seemed relatively easy this time, but the line up of cars to pass through Hong Kong customs and immigration was pretty long, as you can see from above photos. Still, being a Friday afternoon, my driver thought things looked pretty good.
Crossing the bridge enroute to the airport with a view of downtown Hong Kong.