Low-key tech guys drive Shanghai development

China Central Television (CCTV)- In metropolitan Shanghai live a group of young men with lots of talents but a low profile. Just like the youth generation in other parts China, they are diligently making concrete contribution to the country’s development.

The group is nicknamed “Zhangjiang Guys” as many of them work at the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, a technology park in the city’s Pudong district that houses 360,000 technology workers, 80 percent of them under age of 35.

According to pop culture descriptions, the so-called Zhangjiang Guys are defined by their minimalistic dress code – a pair of full-frame glasses, ball pen in the front pocket, access card hanging around the neck, and a black backpack that always has a laptop in it.

Wang Ji, a luminaires and systems programmer, fits the definition of Zhangjiang Guys perfectly. Every morning, he emerges from the subway stop at the hi-tech park like 12,000 others who check in between eight and nine o’clock in companies based at the tech zone.

Wang said no to the stereotype that heads of Zhangjiang Guys are full of codes, but little of fun and excitements. As he put it, they, the geeks, MAKE the cool happen in life.

“Using this app I can transmit the traffic light data to the back end and then let it control the traffic lights. For example, if the traffic gets congested at a certain crossroads, I can make the green light last longer and the red light shorter. The measure both saves energy and improves the efficiency of the city’s traffic operation,” said Wang.

The seemingly bland cycles of life in the park are in fact full of competition and innovation. To inspire the talents, streets in the park are characteristically named after renowned scientists like Sir Isaac Newton and Thomas Edison.

“All developers with a science and engineering background love the process of facing and solving problems,” said Wang from his workbench scattered with tech gadgets.

Brooded in the pervading engineering culture, Wang and his likes share the motto worship is work.

Riding a shared bicycle home late in the evening, Wang said working overtime is worth it, for ecstasy comes when a new product is launched in the market, “If get off work at five o’clock in the afternoon, I would feel guilty; If I get off work at five o’clock on a second day, I would have some introspection whether I did something below the mark; If I get off work at five o’clock for the third day, I doubt the company wouldn’t have me fired. Working late is the norm at Zhangjiang.”

Such industriousness makes Zhangjiang Guys the ideal “preys” for mothers eager to find gifted and upright son-in-laws. And the bashful guys indeed look forward to entertain some romance.

“Educated and reasonable? Gentle and cultivated? Good at social intercourse? Being able to cook? Either one of the qualities would be more than ideal,” Wang described his expectations of a girlfriend.

At a matchmaking event around the Qixi Festival, a traditional Chinese festival celebrating the reunion of a legendary couple, Wang became the crown of the jewels who easily won the confidence of mothers enticed by his good education and decent salary.

“We are all in a parent association. When somebody mentioned this matchmaking event for Zhangjiang Guys, a lot of us jumped to sign up – the Zhangjiang Guys, think of it! Exactly the group we need to check out,” said a mother looking for a son-in-law with good qualities.

As time goes, more and more people have come to know the lovely Zhangjiang group who are not only computer specialists and weirdoes who put radiators on the head to disperse heat, but also music lovers, joke tellers, and many other roles.

Wang likes to coding as well as literature in his spare time. A quote from the coming-of-age novel “Border Town” by modern Chinese writer Shen Congwen touched him in particular, that “the sun has never let down the young in rising every day, therefore the young shall not let down the passing days.”

The sentence taught him not to waste a day to make a difference. After all, he said, they, the young, cannot restart life like they do with the computers.