Waiting For China To Re-Open, From Huaqiangbei

The Chinese New Year is something we keep in mind at least half of the year, and probably still don’t plan for properly. In case you’re new to the situation: The Chinese New Year celebration empties out Shenzhen of its more than 12 million residents for the better part of a month. It’s the one time of year that manufacturing sector workers (and everyone that supports that ecosystem) travels home to visit family.

For those involved in manufacturing goods in Shenzhen, this part of the year leaves us cut off from one of our vices and we count the days until our tracking numbers and order confirmations start to show signs of life. It’s an inconvenience of an entirely different nature if you are one of the lonely few that stays in the city during the holiday. [Ian] over at Dangerous Prototypes wrote a blog post from his office in Huaqiangbei which is a sub-district of Shenzhen, China to share the experience with us.

Shenzhen is uniquely a migrant-worker city, and when emptied of the factory employees there are not enough people to patronize local services like markets and restaurants so they also shut down. But an empty city offers its own interesting entertainment like wicked fireworks sessions. As always, [Ian] does a great job of sharing this peculiar part of Shenzhen culture. He also kindly points out some of the offensive offers that come through the inter-webs from desperate customers who have poorly planned around the holiday.

24 thoughts on “Waiting For China To Re-Open, From Huaqiangbei

  1. Funny how deeply ingrained these old habits become in a culture long after the reasons for them have passed. However they are beginning to fall as attrition takes its toll on each older generation and the following ones give these holidays less emphasis.

      1. Give it a while. First the next generation, born in Shenzhen, once their grandparents are gone, will have no reason to leave. In fact more than likely Mom and Dad will be living in the city, so that’s where they will celebrate. With transit times reduced, closures will likely be shorter, next some will stay at work to provide ‘coverage’ because they have no folks, or need the money, and slowly, just like with major holidays in the West, the level of disruption gets less and less – never disappears, just gets managed better.

        1. The new years holiday is a long tradition well before people leave their villages and look for work else where in big cities. So not going to make a whole lot of difference even if everyone is in town. They might start doing other activities when that happens.

          For a culture that have thousands of years of culture, this national holiday is not going away any time soon.

          1. No one is saying it will go away, Christmas and Easter haven’t gone away although most of the West has entered a post-Christian age, but the level of economic disruption religious feast days and civil holidays cause is a good deal less than they used to – I’m old enough to remember when everything was closed on Sundays, now few retailers are. The same thing will happen to the Chinese in time.

      1. The impact difference between the Christmas to new years week and the Chinese new years celebration is quite large. In the west the hindrance is limited to a single week, and most shops and manufacturers actually have a skeleton crew working in that week to at least process some orders, run production and handle communication. China pretty much just shuts down for a month. Nearly nothing gets produced or shipped and communications are either slow or non-existent.

    1. I’m labor, thus pro-labor. Labor in the US does get rest. In my last job, after one year of employment I receive two weeks per year of paid vacation. Three weeks per year after ten years of employment. Thing is so much of US labor has succumbed to consumerism, thus enslaving themselves for short term gratification. even at a merely the subsistence level labor’s consumption drives any economy well.

      1. Ouch – 2 weeks is all you get until 10 years in? And i’ve heard a lot of people in the USA don’t even take those two weeks. I’m 15 years at my current job with 4 weeks, plus stat Canadian Holidays and other flex days – ends up being close to 6 weeks total not working per year. At 18 years in I’ll get another week, and another again at 25 years.

  2. Reads to me like China isn’t as full of entrepreneurs as we are lead to believe. Unless it’s expressly prohibited; respectfully I have to find it unbelievable, no one isn’t providing local services during the holiday. I do believe when it comes to production there is a lack of planning for the Holiday. That’s a serious negative aspect to the vaulted Chinese production Elsewhere in the world dairy produce get work around holiday. As do oil procedures and those companies that support dairy and oil production.General labor practically in all cases do get the time off the to travel yo visit family and family functions. All blue laws ha has or have exceptions.. But in Kansas your screwed if you run out of beer or booze on Sunday, unless you know modern day bootleggers. Personally I’d trade a week off to celebrate, for using those days off when “I’ would like to plan them. Although one could find employers that would deny thay, I have to believe most employers do allow that. Hell if one doesn’t like Chinese tradition, ahy support it by living there or using Chinese production? Yea like most I’m surronded by made in China goods because the marketers don’t give us any choice. Oh well this article offered an interesting glimpse int life elsewhere in the world.

    1. I’m sure the Chinese have just as many “entrepreneurs”, dubious as they are, as anywhere else. They just have different priorities. Some people still think of family and your own recreation as more important than work. Some people are still allowed to have time off!

      Maybe it’s cos China hasn’t been sucking at the teat of Mammon for so many years, maybe it’s because their Communist government hasn’t been sold to large companies like the USA’s has (and a few places beside). So they still see their lives as lives, and work as work.

      In your fathers’ and grandfathers’ generation, Americans knew how to strike! Big strikes, that affected things, and got results. Back before they were scared it’d mean their jobs all disappearing to China, ironically enough, and Mexico. What sort of democracy gives tax breaks to companies for shifting jobs abroad!?!? How’s that even possible? It serves the interests of a few rich people, and fucks over the lives of many millions of ordinary ones. Have they finally started charging money to vote?

      This whole “democracy” caper isn’t doing what it’s supposed to any more. We’re vassals, now.

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