China, the New Silicon Valley

When many think of China, their minds do not automatically snap to modern technological hub. In an article written on Spiegel Online, Bernhard Zand delves into the new world of technology sweeping through China. Technology here in the United States is a way of life. We use our cell phones on possibly an hourly basis, and frequently check emails. We live in our own little technology bubble. China has begun to burst our bubble. There is a company in China called 36Kr, which is similar to Microsoft and Apple. A few months ago, 36Kr held a party in a nightclub in downtown Beijing where music was played on apps made by 36Kr. There was also a raffle held at the end of the night that required the audience to shake their cellphones:

“Okay, everyone log in to Weixin,” the MC says, “and shake your phones: three, two, one, now!”

Weixin, WeChat in English, is the most successful Chinese chat app and everyone in The Basement had it installed on their mobile devices. When the phone is shaken, the app displays a list of everyone nearby within just seconds. Those at the top of the moderator’s Weixin list win the raffle: iPhones, paid vacation days, giant-screen televisions. One winner is so ecstatic that, new iPad in hand, he begins breakdancing on stage.

A band plays at 36Kr’s New Year party.

This is the new face of China. It is estimated that over 84% of the 1.3 billion people in China have access to cellular devices and internet. Akio Tanaka, a technology investor, said, “When I came to Beijing 10 years ago, China’s Internet was so ugly. But now, the websites of some Chinese vendors are better than those in America.” Beijing is taking an avid interest in technology, and the state is more than willing to help start-up companies get their ideas off the ground. All types of tech giants are now coming to China for ideas in technology, including Facebook, Yahoo, and various social networks. Beijing is becoming the Silicon Valley of China.


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