Just a little over thirty years ago China was an undeveloped country, farmland including rice paddy fields were the main features of habited areas. a mainly agricultural and livestock rearing was the main way of life for many, there were always the manufacturing of homegrown products including the Flying pigeon bicycle from 1860, this peaked around 1958 with a million bicycles being produced per year. We must not forget that the Chinese also invented papermaking, printing, gunpowder and the magnetic compass.
The national strategic policy was introduced that liberated the economy by accelerating “informatization” with its industrial development. In 1978 former leader Deng Xiaoping reformed and opened up business zones, they were created to allow the dramatic economic rise that we have seen with a world export market economy.
One such economic zone was Shenzen in southern China’s Guangdong province, before the industrial development of China, it was a small fishing village called Boo’an county and was renamed to Shenzen city in 1979, by 1980 the first special economic zone was devised and built within this new city. Local villagers and those from further afield had the chance to live and work in this new upcoming city that included the electronics factories which were being built at a great rate, the jobs were well paid, in a clean environment and under a covered roof, not in a field farming as was the norm for many – this was a welcoming way of work-life for those who wanted to take up this new work, some relocating hundreds of miles just to have these new jobs.
In 1983 the Japanese electronics maker set up a new factory in Shekou, this is located at the southern tip of Shenzen, the city whose transformation is the most closely linked to
Chinas uprising on the world economic table. With all this going on the former market town grew from 50,000 people into the tech hub it is today with 12,000,000 or so people – Hanking electronics, Huawei, Intel, Micron, Samsung, SK Hynix, Texas instruments and ZTE microelectronics amongst others all have startup and fabrication plants/factories there.
With the logical progression of new business districts being introduced and then developed upon it is quite normal for advances with the technology from China we have witnessed, Shenzhen showed the world with its little ‘Made in CHINA’ stickers stuck at random angles on the underside of our electronic devices that they really meant business and even coined the saying, these early massed produced products were simple calculators, alarm clocks, handheld video games consoles, radios and tape players, torches as well as other devices.
Factories that created these devices were a closely-knit lot, the owners would source components from the neighbouring factories and use in their own hardware, tips and tricks on how to build better devices for a cheaper production cost would be shared, sometimes improvements to components would be made and then a newly improved capacitor, chip, relay, transistor or overall product would be born. The original creator would not take this as theft of the idea as it had been improved upon, they still had the accolade of its original invention or fabrication and as a bonus had access the component they use which had been improved by a third party.
The exported products got better, smaller, cheaper to produce and ship with growing profits – the companies really took off then, being able to invest in bigger and better fabrication facilities, nothing was going to stop them.
It was not until China implemented their 10th ‘5-year-plan’ that made software development a priority, from 2001 – 2005 this period pillared this sectors economic development.
As before with the factories, the mass software development side of things was operated in an open-source manner, companies including government agencies had access to each others software development kits and code, improvements could be made, code errors found and some simplification introduced as the codebase was developed.
As with electronics, China was a relative zero when it came to software but from about 2011 open-source helped to shape and dramatically fueled the rise then create a foot in the door of the worlds forum. China looked upon the information sharing known as open-source not only from a self-prospering purpose but also as a national security matter, they did not want to be left behind while the rest of the world progressed in different ways, they also did not want to rely or be dependent on foreign technology aside from the means for its particular production.
China now contributes two-thirds of the volume contributing to GitHub hosted repositories making them the second-largest group there. Quite simply the world and its electronics would not be the same as it is now if it weren’t for the Chinese taking up an open-source outlook, not only for their own developmental needs but that of the wider world too.