The cultural differences between Shenzhen and the West

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Shenzhen, often referred to as the "Silicon Valley of China", is not only a global center for technology and innovation, but also a melting pot of different cultures and traditions.

To the Western observer, Shenzhen may seem like any other modern metropolis at first glance, but a closer look reveals deep-rooted cultural differences that shape life, work and, of course, technology in the city. For tech enthusiasts looking to settle in or visit Shenzhen, understanding these differences is essential to successfully navigate Shenzhen's dynamic environment. This article will provide an in-depth look at these cultural nuances and how they influence the city's technology landscape.

1. business culture and technology

Guanxi Shenzhen

In Shenzhen, as throughout China, business etiquette plays a crucial role. Compared to Western countries, where business relationships are often formal and based on contracts, Chinese business culture places great emphasis on personal relationships and trust, a concept known as "guanxi". This is also reflected in the technology industry, where networking and personal recommendations often pave the way to business opportunities.

Another crucial factor in the Shenzhen business world is the use of modern communication tools. Apps like WeChat are essential not only for everyday communication, but also for business transactions, networking, and even marketing purposes. In a city that never sleeps, such platforms enable constant connectivity and responsiveness.

Shenzhen technology companies stand out for their flexibility and ingenuity. Unlike their Western counterparts, which often pursue long-term strategies, Shenzhen companies are known for responding quickly to market changes. The ability to produce and adapt products quickly has made Shenzhen a hotspot for customized solutions and rapid prototyping. This dynamic approach has helped Shenzhen establish itself as a leading center for technological innovation.

2. cultural celebrations and technology

In Shenzhen, traditional Chinese celebrations and modern technology merge in a unique way. Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is the most important and biggest festival in China. It usually lasts 15 days, starting with New Year's Day and ending with the Lantern Festival. During this time, the world in Shenzhen almost comes to a standstill as people stop working and spend time with their families. We at TradingShenzhen also enjoy the time with family and friends. During this time, our shipping from China is at a standstill, only the EU warehouse can still ship. 

People are using technology to celebrate their traditions in new and innovative ways. For example, red envelopes, traditionally filled with cash and distributed to friends and family, are increasingly being sent digitally via apps like WeChat.

Another great festival is the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated in September or October. It is a celebration of union and coming together with the family. During this festival, moon cakes are given away and eaten together. Again, people in Shenzhen use technology to send greetings and share virtual mooncakes via social media.

Technology plays an important role in both festivals, as well as other cultural events in Shenzhen. Art and music festivals often use interactive technology to engage the audience and create an immersive experience. In Shenzhen, traditional celebrations and technology are not seen as opposites, but as complementary elements that work together to create a rich and diverse cultural experience.

3. education and technology

Shenzhen University of Science and Technolgy

Education in Shenzhen is strongly influenced by technology. Great emphasis is placed on teaching technological skills in the city's schools. Students learn how to program at a young age and participate in robotics and engineering competitions. This contrasts with many Western countries, where technology education is often introduced only at higher levels of education.

Shenzhen universities are also leaders in technology education. They offer a variety of degree programs in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science. Many of these universities work closely with technology companies in Shenzhen to provide students with hands-on experience and access to the latest technologies.

Shenzhen University is an example of such an institution. It has an enrollment of 34,156 students and offers a wide range of degree programs in fields such as engineering, physics and chemistry. The university also has an impressive research record with 47,026 scientific publications and 702,003 citations received.

Shenzhen's strong emphasis on technology education reflects its cultural appreciation of innovation and progress. There is a culture of lifelong learning in the city, where people are constantly striving to improve their skills and keep up with the latest technological developments. This contrasts with many Western cultures, where education is often seen as something completed in youth and de-emphasized in adulthood.

4. communication and social norms in business

Wechat in Shenzhen

Communication in Shenzhen is heavily influenced by technology. People use a variety of messaging apps and social media to stay in touch and share information. WeChat is the dominant platform and is used for everything from communicating with friends and family to business transactions and networking. This is in contrast to many Western countries, where a variety of messaging apps and social media coexist.

Social norms in Shenzhen also differ from those in the West. There is a culture of openness and sharing in the city, which is reflected in the way people use technology.

People often share personal information and photos on social media and are willing to try new technologies and platforms. In the West, on the other hand, there is often greater concern about data protection and privacy, and people are more cautious about sharing personal information online.

Another difference in communication is the role of hierarchy and respect. In Shenzhen, as throughout China, there is great emphasis on respect for elders and superiors. This is also reflected in communication, where formal forms of address and courtesies are used more often than in the West.

In business, Shenzhen is an important gateway for communication between China and the rest of the world and plays a crucial role in China's national initiative - the Greater Bay Area Plan. Companies like Edelman's Shenzhen office provide a wide range of communications services, including corporate communications and integrated marketing solutions. They also help Chinese brands globalize and provide expertise and services to clients in technology, logistics, financial communications, healthcare and insurance.

5. technology and mobility

Shenzhen has become a pioneer in electric mobility, with an impressive 22,000 electric cabs and 16,000 electric buses.

Electric mobility in Shenzhen has not only revolutionized public transport, but also changed people's daily lives. Electric bicycles and electric scooters have become increasingly popular in the city, offering a convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional means of transportation. People in Shenzhen use these electric vehicles for short trips to commute to work, do shopping or visit friends.

The city has also invested in expanding charging infrastructure for electric bikes and electric scooters. There are now thousands of charging stations throughout the city, allowing people to conveniently charge their electric vehicles. The price of charging electric bikes and electric scooters is usually lower than the cost of gasoline, making these vehicles a cost-effective alternative.

Electromobility has also helped improve air quality in Shenzhen. The city has made significant progress in reducing air pollution in recent years, and electrification of transport has helped. People in Shenzhen can now breathe cleaner air and benefit from a better quality of life.

The city has also taken steps to improve the safety of electric bicycles and electric scooters. There are now stricter regulations on the manufacture and operation of these vehicles to ensure they are safe and reliable. The city has also conducted public awareness campaigns on the safe use of electric bicycles and electric scooters.

Overall, electric mobility in Shenzhen has helped make the city a more modern, environmentally friendly, and livable city. People in Shenzhen can now enjoy the benefits of electric mobility while helping to protect the environment.

6. cultural influences and demographics

The demographics of Shenzhen are unique and reflect the rapid development of the city. The city has a total population of 12 million, with 5.874 million (33.4%) being hukou holders (locally registered). The city has a young population, with the average being 32 years old. The age structure is as follows: 17% is between 0-14, 17% is between 15-29, the biggest part are the 30-44, which make 22% and the 45-59 make 23%. People that are older than 60 are accounting only for 19% of the population. The life expectancy in Shenzhen is 81.25 years, making it one of the top 20 cities in China.

Shenzhen Population in Diagram

Shenzhen culture has a strong influence on technology development and use in the city. People in Shenzhen are proud of their cultural roots and traditions and often integrate them into their technology products and services. This is in contrast to many Western countries, where technology is often seen as something that exists independently of culture.

Shenzhen has a strong community of technology developers and entrepreneurs focused on creating technology products that reflect the city's cultural values and traditions. These products range from apps that promote traditional Chinese music and art to technology products designed specifically for Chinese holidays and festivals.

People in Shenzhen also use technology to preserve and promote their cultural traditions. Many people use social media and messaging apps to share information about traditional Chinese festivals and holidays and to share their cultural experiences with others. This is in contrast to many Western countries, where technology is often seen as something separate from culture.

Technology in Shenzhen is also heavily influenced by the city's culture. Many technology products and services in the city are specifically tailored to the needs and preferences of Shenzhen people. This contrasts with many Western countries, where technology products are often developed for a global audience.


Shenzhen is a city characterized by its unique blend of tradition and technology. The city's cultural diversity and young population have helped make Shenzhen a center for cultural, creative and technological innovation. The city has a vibrant arts and culture scene, a vibrant technology and start-up scene, a vibrant education scene, and a vibrant environmental and sustainability scene supported by a wide range of professionals and enthusiasts.

For techies looking to work in or visit Shenzhen, it's important to understand the cultural differences that set the city apart from Western norms. People in Shenzhen are proud of their cultural roots and traditions and often incorporate them into their technology products and services. The city also has a strong community of technology developers and entrepreneurs who focus on creating technology products that reflect the city's cultural values and traditions.

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