Guangzhou - Computer City:
The next morning I took a train ride to Shenzhen, a border town that has grown rapidly in the last few years. I had to go through immigration leaving Hong Kong; and immigration entering China. This is despite the fact that Hong Kong is considered Chinese territory. Yet, it has its own governing members for another 50 years after Britain return Hong Kong in 1997
ending the treaty from Opium war. Okay, I have just collected two more stamps in my passport page.
With more than 7 million occupants, this "little" place with a big name "Hong Kong" about the size of Chicago City is crowded even 30 years ago when I was a young man before I headed for the United States. I could remember my brand new wrist watch was scratched from bumping into people walking to the bus stop. The 35 minutes train ride to Shenzhen in a standing up position with a big suit case wasn't much fun. A taxi ride would have been much better, without the touch of the "local" which is what travelling is really meant to be.
How can a person with RMB $1,500 per month income afford a RMB $8,000 PC? The short time I spent in China, I notice all my contacts own one. I will answer that shortly. At the same time, I like to point out what you are about to read is strictly based on my personal observation, nothing else.
With two immigration processes behind me, I now entered China. Another train ride, this time was much better; with less people, I could sit down and found ample room around. About an hour later I arrived at Guangzhou. I took a cab to meet my contact to whom I have had a previous arrangement in the U.S. It was an ATX case, Power Supply, keyboard and monitor manufacturer. After an hour of discussion, I noticed something wasn't "right". To make it short, I didn't think I have come to the right place, or, I have come to the right place where I did not expect.
Bottom line, I don't think I was talking to a manufacturer. Rather, a third party guy buying products from the local suppliers. I saw many familiar looking ATX cases and the so called "generic" low quality power supplies in their sample room. "Why waste more time?", I asked myself. A normal way to say good-bye plus a normal smile on our faces (the traditional Chinese greeting), disappointed I left.
With so many day light hours left for the day, I decided to check in a local hotel and took a taxi ride to the "Computer City" a few Km away at a cost of RMB $15.00.
"Computer City" consists of several blocks of city street housing stores after stores of computer goodies. The most popular motherboards are Asus, Abit and Gigabyte. I couldn't find a single DFI board. ATI 9550 cards are all over, which is made in China for domestic consumption.
Lenovo dealers are everywhere. For RMB $7,000 you get the latest S939 Venice 3000+ with NV 6200 vcard, 17" LCD and keyboard.
Wheeling and dealings are the only way to conduct business in China, bargaining and negotiating is part of any business transaction. Salesmen armed with calculators are ready to give you the "best" price, awaiting your best offer.
Yet, they openly admitted the fact that they by-pass the normal channels in getting the goods into China.
For the local small shops to compete with name brands, they manage to get HDD, Video Card and CPU from undisclosed sources at prices below suggested prices. Without official warranty from the manufacturers, the system builders provide their own "warranty". They also proudly admitted they learnt the tricks from Hong Kong merchants.
You could easily get an ATX case similar to what we see here in the U.S. and EU for less than RMB ~$150 (US $18). While HP and Lenovo system might cost RMB $7,000, a similarly equipped system would save the buyer RMB $1,500 should one go to a local system builder. Naturally, high end systems like what we are accustomed to; the latest and greatest stuffs are by no means found. Surely, you don't expect NV7800 or ATI X1800 cards laying around for your picking and bargaining for.
How can a person with RMB $1,500 monthly income afford a RMB $7,000 system? Well, the answer is family buying power. A family consists of at least 3 incomes; sons and daughters live with their parents even after they are married make the difference. Don't forget, the population in China has reached 1.4 billon! No wonder every major company has established foot-hold in China.
I spoke to a couple small computer store owners in a town about 50 km from Guangzhou and I was surprised to hear that they don't keep much inventory. They would make a trip to "Computer City" weekly to get what they need for the week. AMD Sempron series CPUs are the most popular for the low cost.