Welcome to Zhongguancun, China's Silicon Valley

September 16, 2010 | Posted by Chris

Shopping in one of the electronics markets in Zhongguancun in Beijing, which is often regarded as "China's Silicon Valley."

Known as "China's Silicon Valley," Zhongguancun is an abbreviation for an aggregate of many close-by computers markets, where a great mix of legitimte and pirated software, gray market imports, refurbished and do-it-yourself products can be easily purchased.

History

Zhongguancun has existed since the 1950s but only became a household name in China in the early 1980s. The first person who envisioned the future for Zhongguancun was Chen Chunxian, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who came up with the idea for a Silicon Valley in China after he visited the U.S. as part of a government-sponsored trip. The location of the Chinese Academy of Sciences within Zhongguancun reinforced, and perhaps was in part responsible for, the technological growth in this area.

Throughout the 1980s and still today, Zhongguancun was known as "electronics avenue," because of its connections to information technology and the great number of electronics stores along a central, crowded street.

Zhongguancun was officially recognized by the central government of China in 1988. It was given the long and official name "Beijing High-Technology Industry Development Experimental Zone."

The current designation Zhongguancun refers commonly to the original site. However, officially (as of 1999) Zhongguancun has become the "Zhongguancun Science & Technology Zone." It is a zone with seven parks, including Haidian Park, Fengtai Park, Changping Park, Electronics City (in Chaoyang), Yizhuang Park, Desheng Park, and Jianxiang Park. The original Zhongguancun is now known as the Haidian Park of the Zhongguancun Zone.

The five prominent IT and electronics markets in ZHongguancun are: Hailong Market, Guigu Market, Taipingyang Market, Dinghao Market and Kemao Market. They are technology bazaars, famous for their "shops within a shop," where prices are easily but grudgingly bargained. Zhongguancun shops mainly deal in PC-compatible hardware, accessories and software. AppleCentre and Apple Experience Centre are also close by.

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