Inside China’s Future Factory

You get in the metal tube. Zoom up 115 floors at a ridiculous speed to the top of the Ping An skyscraper. Then you find a window, and marvel at the sublime bigness of Shenzhen. Forty years ago, all this was farmland and dirt roads, a minor hub for rural goods trading just across the border from Hong Kong. Now, it’s the hot, steamy, frenetic home to 13 million people that just about everyone on Earth calls the Silicon Valley of China. Everything here moves at what’s known as Shenzhen speed. It’s a phrase that describes an unyielding pace of change and I came here to feel it firsthand. To do that, it’s an Instagram pose with the cityscape,
a quick scan for government spy drones, and then a car ride, to see we’re just about everything we use gets made. You hear about factories in China all the time. Today, I’m lucky enough to actually go visit one that’s located about an hour outside of the center of the city. They’re gonna let us see what life is like inside one of these factories. There are grim factories. There are decent factories. And then there’s this place, run by Grandsun Electronic. It’s safe to say this is not what I expected. The plush surroundings are intended to make customers from all parts of the world feel comfortable. But inside it’s more like you’d expect. Dozens of workers moving at Shenzhen speed, making fancy headphones for an Australian company called Nura. How did you guys end up in Shenzhen? I guess that’s the thing to do these days. Yeah. Shenzhen’s known as a place that people come to to make things. You don’t come here to mess around, you come here to get things done. They have the supply chain here, a supplier that can make any component the headphones you need, and of course there’s the labor cost, which is not cheap as it used to be, but still reasonable. The production line’s been running at basically maximum capacity since we started and yeah, we can do 500 a day normally. What are the little noises were hear in the background? You’re hearing them make sure they assembled the speaker correctly. So that’s, like, a test noise. Yeah, that’s right. But what is life like for the people who make these wonderful toys? To get a taste of the factory experience. I join the mad dash for lunch. Mmm… cafeteria food. How are you? Good? How’s the food? It’s good? How long have you worked here? It’s tough to say anything terribly new about the life of the Chinese factory worker. Most of these people have come from China’s hinterlands, often leaving their families behind in their rural hometowns. They’ll spend about two years on average in Shenzhen, busting their butts working overtime to save up as much money as they can. Is it a step up from hardscrabble subsistence farming? Probably. Are there still safety nets? Yep. But I can tell you one major lifestyle advantage the Chinese have over us gweilos. When we first started working here, after lunch, we couldn’t really get anyone’s attention. Eventually, we cottoned on – everyone’s just sleeping at that time of day. That said we embraced it very quickly. What is your preferred sleeping apparatus? I’m pretty Spartan, so either on the desk or under the desk with a bit of bubble wrap for a pillow. Trust me, it’s good. Luke is just one of many entrepreneurs who come to get their gear made in Shenzhen. There’s a flourishing scene here for hardware startups that want to move fast and make things. Many of them can be found here, at a startup incubator called Hax. The idea here is simple: Help startups build a prototype, then connect them with factories that can start cranking out their products by the thousands. Take Jamie here, an affable chap who’s part of a British startup called Carv. We make a digital ski coach. So effectively it’s like an insert you put into your ski boot and it teaches you how to ski better. So you get like real-time feedback through headphones like, that was a bad turn. That was a bad turn. That was a better turn. You have one here don’t you? Yeah, let me show you. So yeah, these are motion sensors, so we have full motion sensing. Like many startups here, Carv began life as a humble Kickstarter campaign. Now just a couple of years later, they’re pumping out 5,000 units of their product every month. Do you think you could have brought something like this to life in the UK if you’d have been accepted by an incubator there? Or now that you’ve been here, you’ve seen a new world I guess? I think it kind of depends a little bit on how much of a shoestring you’re on. Here in Shenzhen, it’s so much cheaper. In many different categories it’s cheaper. Like in the product development phase, to get different materials 3D printed or machined, you get it here for kind of half the cost and twice as fast. And sometimes seven times as fast. To get a feel for that high-speed energy, I hop across the street with Jamie to the famed Huaqiangbei markets. Yeah, so this is the biggest electronics market in the world probably. They’re an important resource for the young entrepreneurs here, and a fantastic place to get your senses overloaded. Such a hive of activity in here! Aw man it’s great, so this is the energy right? You just walk through the market and it’s like, bang. You know, like, okay. This is where factories have come to display their wares to potential buyers, who is me and a lot of the other people here. Kind of a storefront for factories. Okay, and if I make like smartphones or TVs or anything like that, I kind of come here to see the latest and greatest stuff? Exactly. You want to find a manufacturer, you come to Huaqiangbei. It’s also a great place to find that missing part for your prototype, which is why you run into other crews from Hax roaming the aisles. Buying some screws? Have you tried, there’s a spring woman out the front as well if you want one. Just on the left as you go out. The fact that I can get a component in like an hour is like absolutely phenomenal. That’s like, that is Shenzhen speed. That’s why we’re here. It’s all happening here in Shenzhen, like some kind of crazy 21st-century gold rush. But to really give Silicon Valley a run for its money, it’s going to have to become more than just a factory
to the world. It’s going to take invention and original thinking. And where better to find those things than at the world’s most intense robotics competition. Please welcome Robomaster! We’ll get into it next time on Hello World. Thanks for watching, and if you want to see more Hello World, click on the link to subscribe.

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100 thoughts on “Inside China’s Future Factory

  1. 2:30 wtf?! I am enjoying the video till I heard of Nura. Nura is a scam, pretending to produce state of the art headphones. 3:21 great! these are toys! 😅

  2. I wish he'd dug deeper and talked to more locals about the Shenzhen ecosystem. It was a pretty shallow look that lacked any sort of depth.

  3. Chinese treat their workers badly eg 996 rule. So much for Communism! I expect all the farmers had their land seized by the corrupt state to build this monstrosity. They need to ditch Xi who is the new Mao.

  4. No matter how smart, intelligent or hardworking your country's leader and people are, remember, there's always criticism,hate and envy from all sides.

  5. Probably I got feels stupid, seeing China today is made me truly scary. But I am proud of them deeply. 😊

  6. It's actually wonderful. The Chinese are hard working peoole that would not have had seen the fruits of their labor had it been 35 years ago. Now the government, despite still being a pseudo communist, cares more for its people than it's ever been. Thats why in the past 20 years, the Chinese have had very very significant increase in quality of life

  7. Everything shines in China. However it's s all made of paper, duct tape and recycle used toilet paper.

  8. Look, yeah great they are only where they are because of the u.s. last time i checked i worked through my 12 hr day without a NAP or food supplied by my employer…I have worked with foriegners from China and other places, and each one of my american friends out lifted out performed and produced more sq footage of turf space than 3 of them put together. I wouldn't trust any structure built in China, or even the cars or food…JUNK!!!!!!

  9. Its neighbour, HK, developed nothing in the past 10 years. Shame HK! 10km distance, two different world.

  10. It's absolutely amazing how some haters can totally shut off reality and sorely take whatever garbage some western media tries to feed them as the absolute truth. Simply unbelievable.

  11. America is liassez faire capitalism with individuals and companies ripping the situation by getting as much profit as they can and getting out quick it’s a land of cowboy capitalists corruption and the poor slave wagers who want to reach the top. China is a collectivist high tech obedient society with a goal on world domination at the expense of everything except national unity. Two completely different civilizations. One must fall

  12. All the Hub-Bub and Hoop-La about China's "Manufacturing Capitol of the World" with 5 times the Population of the USA,, how come China only has 1/2 the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the USA. ?
    If you're one of the People that can do math in your head, You are doomed..! The "Information Super Highway" is a Smash-up Derby..

  13. Slavery in it's mass form . Greedy world super rich manufacturing rubbish for the worlds spoiled stupid brats only for that item to fail within 6 months then go directly into land fill or into the nearest ocean, river or swamp .

  14. Too bad too many leaders are making fun of or making enemies with china, instead learning from it. I'm USA citizen and the kind of bad decisions that the government here make is just so very very outrageous sometimes. China didn't have miracle or got super lucky, it just made a lot of smart practical policies.

  15. Papermaking, gunpowder, compass, printing are all original ideas. 5G and quantum satellite (as many have mentioned) are also the first of its kind. Specifically, China is the first country to successfully entangle quantum particles over the distance that they did. Give credit where it's due.

  16. that was so interesting, as a child I remember watching programs on tv on how different things are made. Like hot dogs and other things. thank you for down loading this.

  17. China is on steroids. They will crash heavy, and when it happens countries which bet heavy on them will suffer too

  18. To be precise, Shenzhen's crazy development is 20-30 years. And the Western media will only report negative Chinese news and thank Trump. I believe that now Huawei and Shenzhen have been recognized by most people in the world.

  19. I noticed the emphasis on cheaper labor
    I would like to see how these cheaper laborers live
    Large companies who run the world obviously have more concern with
    profits than the well being of their employees

  20. Was in Singapore at the turn of the century. Found it to be the ultimate dystopian nightmare: everyone knows their place and the thought of challenging authority is heresy. Epsilons are happy with their miserable lives and are happy to worship Alphas.


  22. FACTOID. A huge motivator for all Chinese is their Past. Yeah, steal every invention, gouge the advantage on every deal, cheat and scam, work harder, longer, whatever it takes. Promise the impossible, then find a way; take every shortcut. BECAUSE in the '70s people were lining up to jump in front of the train. Hell of a motivator.

  23. I think Sydney is still building a tram through the city CBD for the same amount of money and will finish the project later than this city.

  24. 有种黑色幽默的解释:深圳特区成立后还是小渔村,又要出经济成果。平级领导没有想来干的,于是从东北调一了批干部。东北干部不知道该干嘛,于是尽量少管少做,最后商人和企业家建造了现在的深圳😂

  25. "We're not here to mess around with silly white men stuff like democracy, we're here to get things done".

  26. America has all these pregnant young females no man support for child many of them. They are HS dropouts no education or skills. The literacy rate in China has to be higher to get this many people working tech assembly like this. .

  27. Wow, now I REALLY understand the reason behind those HK protests. Even the British choose Shenzhen over HK… lol

  28. Chinese government is sick because citizens surveillance, social credit system etc. etc. and it not even realize it 🙄😡😠

  29. try imagine this is company worker and how large that company was still making product of new advance technologies by australia company the chinese people really hard working person love them so much especially dim sum 🙂

  30. I can make salutations for anything you can think of in less than a minute but I get tired of not being taken seriously

  31. Son China is doing more than "giving Silicon Valley a run for its money". It would be more accurate to say that they are mopping the floor with Silicon Valley or . . . leaving Silicon Valley in the dust. Moreover, because china has the upper hand in manufacturing, so do they have the upper hand in development. When the U.S. ceased to be a manufacturing power, they also ceased to be the major innovators and inventors in tech. Read more and you'll discover that the "byproducts" of manufacturing are:


    Sadly these trends are irreversible.

    : /

  32. No the vidwo is posted by 50cents from ccp, its propaganda. We chinese are slaves of the ccp with no human rights and all work in sweatshops 16 hours a day.We even could not afford to buy a tea egg and still live in caves. Westerners please come to resuce us and let us know what is democracy.
    不好意思 中国是世界第一。井底之蛙们继续窝在井底吧。呱呱呱

  33. Love u china From India any one can plz provide me reference of Mobile cases traders of china ❤❤ interested to deal in chinese goods love china

  34. If you're saying we need to learn from Shenzhen, it's not practical. The job can't fit itself in US(the workers live like in bootcamps). If we need to make US's industry great again, therefor need innovation instead of copy china.

  35. Is funny this guy followed workers for a days, I have worked as factory worker for a year and it was actually not that bad

  36. The future is already here. And its in china. What is the future for USA, is the present in China.. They are already building test tracks for 1000km/h high speed rail which will start building in 2021-22 if successful. They already have network of like 40,000km high speed rail of trains which go 350km/h. Shenzhen is all electric buses right now. Electric cars are being rolled out lightning speed. Shanghai is already giving out licensing for self driving taxis. RIGHT NOW. many other cities are following in next few months. Even self flying taxis are being built now and being finalised for testing.

    China is zooming ahead under their intelligent stable government. You can call Chinese brainwashed, but their government will eradicate poverty by 2021. Freedom means inequality and poverty, where people die or get into suicidal levels of debt because they can't afford basic treatment. China has the right mix of socialism/capitalism where capital is subservient to the government and people. The government actually provides results for the people In China, it's why they have highest approval rating of any government in the world. When you look at the exponential rise in quality of life in the last 40 years, it's not hard to see why.

  37. Daily data: Remember China has been the largest and most prosperous society of the world in 1800 of the last 2000 years. The western dominance is an aberration and all aberration come to an end. Moreover leadership in China reaches the top level ( CCP) by proving its merit over 25 years and Chinese work 60 hours a week and in last 25 years are doing Capitalism better than the west. Another point , in all Top American STEM universities Asians beat there American classmates hands down.

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