Li Gongzheng, an employee with head office of China Merchants Bank in Shenzhen, neighboring city of Hong Kong, prefers doing exercises to relax him. Li also likes to surf the Internet in his spare time.
Li, who completed his postgraduate studies with the Chinese People’s University in Beijing, has been working for an on-job doctorate.
Li is just one of the many young people in Shenzhen who leads a “fast-paced lifestyle".
Local statistics show that the average age of residents in Shenzhen is 28.65 years of age and that people aged 20 to 29 make up 35.77 percent of the city’s population.
But in China’s other major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the aging of the population has become a prominent problem.
“A society comprised mostly of young people will surely exert a special vitality," said Ma Yunchi, an associate professor with the Sociology Department of Shenzhen University.
He said, “It is well demonstrated in the progressive concept of “time is money and efficiency is life" formed in the early years of Shenzhen Special Economic Zone."
Shenzhen, as China’s first special economic zone, celebrated its 20th anniversary of founding late last month. Statistics indicate that Shenzhen has an average annual growth rate of over 30 percent in gross domestic product (GDP) in the past two decades. The growth has been dubbed as “Shenzhen speed".
Since Shenzhen became a special zone 20 years ago, it has been attracting tens of thousands of young people to start up businesses here. Its total population increased from 30,000 in 1980 to 4.05 million in 1999.
Li Gongzheng from Chongqing, the country’s youngest municipality in southwest China, said he chose Shenzhen, as he believes the city has broad career opportunities.
“As a young person, I actively engage myself in busy work and amass experiences, so that I may become qualified for senior managerial posts in businesses in the future," said Li.
Associate professor Ma Yunchi explained that young migrants, who were usually penniless when they first came to Shenzhen, must work hard for their subsistence, find a foothold in their workplaces and make progress. Migrants have therefore, naturally developed a concept of self reliance, self support and competitiveness.
Ma, who is in her early 30s, came to work in Shenzhen from Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, ten years ago.
Yan Xuewang, deputy director of the general affairs section of the China Merchants Bank’s head office, said he feels pressure from young people.
“Young people are quick-minded, full of energy and always score new achievements," said Yan, “our bank encourages such benign internal competitions and introduces a system of contractual employment to ensure and improve overall quality of the workers."
The practice of retaining the best workers and eliminating unqualified staff through selection has been widely introduced in all businesses and organizations in Shenzhen.
“The inflow of well-educated migrant workers has made it possible to successfully implement the system which is also an important factor behind Shenzhen’s economic miracle," said Ma Yunchi, an expert of sociology.
Statistics prove that last year, 10,397 people out of every 100,000 residents in Shenzhen had received education above college level, which far exceeds levels in many other major Chinese cities.
At Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, a private high-tech business in Shenzhen, there are more than 6,000 scientific workers engaged in research and development with an average age of 28.
Li Jie, press secretary of the company, said, “The company has provided them with favorable treatment and relaxed work schedules, but when necessary, they often work overtime till late at night exclusive of getting extra payment, or continue work for several months without holidays."
According to Li, 12 of the products provided by his company are considered to attain the highest technical standards in the world. Last year, the company raked in US$1.5 billion in sales earnings, up 39 percent from 1998.
“Employees’ life is not always going to work," said Li, adding that young people in his company like to spend their spare time in bars and disco houses.
In Shenzhen, one can feel that people are devoted to work and to entertainment alike. Chen Jiangang, a customs officer at Shenzhen Airport, said “I like to listen to music or surf the net. "
He said some of his friends like reading in libraries and participating in activities organized by volunteers’ federation.
Due to pressure from work, young people in Shenzhen usually choose to establish careers before getting married. Because there are more males than females, many young people tend to find partners in other areas of the country before moving to Shenzhen.
When asked why he stays in Shenzhen, Chen, who is from northeast China, said “Shenzhen belongs to us young people and we young people also belong to the city."