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Xi Jinping’s father and his trip to Australia had an impact on the birth of China tech giants

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Huawei headquarters is a large campus with 12 “cities”, based in different regions of Europe and distributed with copies of castles and palaces.

Huawei, which is the largest privately owned company in China and the world’s largest maker of smartphones, has not always had such a big home.

The birthplace of the enterprise, just a few miles from its new campus, was a swamp fishing town just 40 years ago.

And there might not have been beemoths born like Huawei if it were not for Xi Jinping Xi Zhongxun’s father.

He arrived in the area In 1978, the province’s first Party secretary, Guangdong, just got a new job.

This was extremely significant for Xi Zhongxun, an early follower of President Mao Zedong and a veteran of the Communist Revolution who was once promoted to become China’s Deputy Prime Minister.

Part of the Huawei campus based in the Belgian city of Bruges, Shezhen is in the background.
Huawei campus is not far from its hometown in Shenzhen.(

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This new job was not as prestigious as it was, but as he wronged Mao in the early 1960s and then spent most of the previous two decades in prison, he would get what he could get.

While Guangdong ranked sixth in terms of China’s most populous provinces, it was significant in its location just across the border from Hong Kong, then the British colony.

What Mr. Xi saw there shocked him, according to Joseph Torigian, an expert on China’s elite politics.

“He can see in these extremely wonderful visual terms how far China has lagged behind the capitalist world, just looking at Hong Kong from Guangdong,” said Dr. Torigian, who is studying Xi Zhongxun for a forthcoming book.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, younger brother Xi Yuanping, middle and father Xi Zhongxun, right.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, with his house-dwelling father Xi Zhongxun, right, in 1958.(

Wikipedia Commons: People’s Day

)

Xi Zhongxun’s visit to Australia

After 16 years in political purgatory, Mr. Xi was eager to see how the rest of the world had changed.

The first place he traveled was Australia, in 1979.

“According to the archives we have on this trip, it seems to have made quite an impact on him,” Dr Torigian told the China podcast, If you are listening.

Mr. Xi visited industrial, agricultural, pastoral sites as well as health, culture, education and scientific research activities throughout NSW, according to Dr. Torgian.

Sydney, Newcastle, Hunter Valley, Casino, Dubbo, Narrandera and Leeton were all on the itinerary.

The Neville Wran opens the eastern suburban railroad
Former NSW Prime Minister Neville Wran at the official opening of a new railway line on the eastern outskirts of Sydney in 1979.(

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“He visited at the invitation of Neville Wran, the leader of New South Wales at the time, and Wran gave a toast at one of the receptions held, where he said, ‘Long live the People’s Republic of China, long live the revolutionary committee of Guangdong Province, long live the sister province relationship between Guangdong and New South Wales, long live the close and harmonious relationship between the People ‘s Republic of China and Australia. “

In return, Dr. Torigian said, Mr. Xi praised the state.

When then-governor Xi returned to Guangdong, he decided to change things.

Hundreds of thousands of people each year were fleeing across the border from his Hong Kong province, seeking a better life.

Mr. Xi understood why they were leaving.

“The villagers are more pragmatic,” he wrote.

“If we cannot improve their lives, they will never stay. Our conversation about the supremacy of socialism was empty for them.”

The last stop before crossing into Hong Kong was Shenzhen a small town (by Chinese standards) whose name meant “deep drainage pit”.

Mr Xi devised a plan to turn Shenzhen into “an export production base for agricultural and industrial goods, a tourist destination for visitors from Hong Kong and a new kind of border town”.

It was given approval to turn the city into a Special Economic Zone, with rules and regulations separate from the rest of China.

What he created was the birthplace of Chinese capitalism.

Shenzhen Noisy 80s

Early in Mr. Xi’s tenure, scrap metal from Hong Kong retired ships began to be processed and traded in Guangdong.

By the end of his second year at work, the “deep drainage gap” had begun its spectacular transformation.

A local entrepreneur who founded an industrial park in Shenzhen put up billboards proclaiming, “time is money, efficiency is life,” a revolutionary concept in Communist China.

While in the rest of the country the citizens were practically all employed either in agriculture or by the state, in Shenzhen the most western employment practices began.

Private businesses hired people on contracts, instead of permanent roles. Job security was worse, but wages were two or three times higher.

Overview of Shenzhen city, including the 100-storey Kingkey tower.
Shenzhen has become a global manufacturing center of technology.(

Reuters: Bobby Yip

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Foreign businesses were welcome to set up joint ventures with domestic companies, leading to the first Western businesses in China.

This idea was quickly copied in other cities, but Shenzhen remained the most prominent.

In 1982, construction began on Shenzhen’s first skyscraper, the Guomao Building. The builders added a floor every three days, leading to the creation of a new term: “Shenzhen Speed.”

It reached 160 meters and was the tallest building in China at the time.

Conditions were so attractive to the rest of China that an 80-kilometer barbed wire fence was erected around Shenzhen to prevent people from flooding the city. Special permits were required to enter the new capitalist paradise within Communist China.

The birth of a giant

One of the people who won a permit was a young man named Ren Zhengfei.

He like many people in Shenzhen had previously worked for the state as an engineer in the Chinese military, before becoming redundant.

He got a job at an oil company, then started his own electronics company in 1987.

Naming it, he took the phrase Zhnghu yuwi which means “China has promised”, abbreviated it and made “Huawei”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pauses as Ren Zhengfei shows him near Huawei's London offices, Mr.  Ren is pointing to something.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ren Zhengfei, president of Huawei.(

Reuters: Matthew Lloyd

)

His plan was to make telephone parts by buying them from abroad, understanding how they worked, then producing them for China.

At the time, getting a landline phone cost about the same as the country’s average annual salary. He wanted to make it cheaper.

But as technology advanced and Huawei grew, it faced challenges.

By the time it switched from telephone switches to mobile telecommunications, cities across China were already dominated by existing companies.

He focused on finding clients in rural areas and finding ways to learn from and collaborate with Western companies.

He worked with IBM to modernize its management practices and began exporting its products overseas.

By 1998, it was big enough to own its own campus and on its way to becoming the world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment.

By z. Ren until then a billionaire was not satisfied.

Ox Horn Campus

In 2010, there was very little difference between Shenzhen and the rest of Guangdong province.

The barbed wire fence was still there, but had long been ignored by people traveling in and out of town.

Capitalist ideals had spread to the rest of the province, and the area around Shenzhen had grown, by some measure, the largest mega-city on earth, with hundreds of skyscrapers taller than the Guomao Building.

But while most of the city looks like any modern, modern business center, there are a number of European castles on one corner.

A large gray building similar to the Palace of Versailles near Paris with a sculpture of horses in front.
A building in the “Paris” neighborhood of the Huawei campus is inspired by the Palace of Versailles.(

Supplied

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Bruges Belfry, Krumlov’s Small Castle, Heidelberg Castle and the Budapest Freedom Bridge all repeat themselves.

It all belongs to Huawei.

When Ren Zhengfei decided to build a new research and development campus, he decided against building a new skyscraper.

Instead of growing vertically, he grew Huawei horizontally.

He bought a larger plot of land than most university campuses on the shores of the picturesque Lake Songhan and built 12 “cities” based on architecture from all over Europe.

A classic European building with a statue of a man riding a horse.
A patio in the “Grenada” neighborhood of the Huawei campus.(

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Many commentators have tried to read this decision.

Is it because of his admiration for Western thinking? Some critics have said this is a testament to his company’s ability to copy other people’s ideas.

But another interpretation is that Mr. Ren simply decided to build something beautiful in the city that made him rich.

In recent years, a well-publicized divide has begun between Huawei and western countries.

The US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK have all raised concerns about Huawei offering a national security risk, saying it may be ordered in the future by the Chinese government to use its devices for purposes espionage.

To them, Mr. Renhas was told: “They are more than welcome to come visit us in Shenzhen.”

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