Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware

Every day at around 4 p.m., the creeeek criikkk of stretched packing tape
echoes through Huaqiangbei, Shenzhen’s sprawling neighborhood of hardware
stores. Shopkeepers package up the day’s sales—selfie sticks, fidget
spinners, electric scooters, drones—and by 5, crowds of people are on the
move at the rapid pace locals call Shenzhen sudu, or “Shenzhen speed,”
carting boxes out on motorcycles, trucks, and—if it’s a light order—zippy
balance boards. From Huaqiangbei the boxes are brought to the depots of
global logistics companies and loaded onto airplanes and cargo ships. In
the latter case they join 24 million metric tons of container cargo going
out every month from Shekou harbor—literally “snake’s mouth,” the world’s
third-busiest shipping port after Shanghai and Singapore.

A few days or weeks later, the boxes arrive in destinations as nearby as
Manila and Phnom Penh and as far afield as Dubai, Buenos Aires, Lagos, and
Berlin. They appear in the world’s largest cities and smallest villages:
selfie sticks held up in front of Indian temples, a (rebranded) Xiaomi
electric scooter cruising down San Francisco’s Market Street, and a DJI
drone flying over pretty much anywhere. If your gadget says “Made in
China,” the chances are it came from Shenzhen.