Shenzhen started out as a collection of farming and fishing villages along China-Hong Kong border. In 1979 it was designated 1st of China’s Special Economic Zone. The plan was to create a sealed off enclave to experiment with market reforms before implementing them in other parts of the country.
Xin’an Ancient City
There has been town on this territory since 4th century, but much of it has been demolished and replaced by 8-story residential buildings. The Ming Dynasty wall and gates still remain, as well as the temple outside the gates and few other structures within. The flavor of old town still remains and one can feel it while walking along its narrow streets.
Today’s city has become one of largest in the Pearl River Delta. It is the economic powerhouse of China and one of largest manufacturing bases in the world. Manufacturing is what placed the city not only on China’s map but on the map of the global economy. It is a part of Shenzhen’s history and it played a crucial role in experimentation China had with the market economy and its opening up to the rest of the world. However, today city is reinventing itself yet again and transformation from industrial to service economy is in a full swing. Shenzhen is now home to some of China’s most successful quality brand high-tech companies. Many foreign high-tech companies have their operations in the Science and Technology Park in Nanshan District I got to know a bit more than other areas. Shenzhen Software Park is integrated with Shenzhen Hi-Tech Industry Park, but I also have seen Shenzhen Tianan Cyber Park in Futian District. There are number of Urban Renewal projects taking root all over the city, they are specifically planned and designed to encourage creative industries to come and settle in Shenzhen. Planning for the DaPeng Peninsula bio-technology and pharmaceuticals park is in the process and it appears that some of the work has already started.
Finance & Trading
New developments are taking place all over Shenzhen and it appears as if the city will never stops growing. The 10th tallest building in the world – Kingkey 100 is in Shenzhen. The 20th tallest in the world -Shun Hing Square building was built in the fast pace of 4 floors in 9 days. In 1990s, Shenzhen was described as constructing “one high-rise a day and one boulevard every 3 days”. Can’t verify that, but at some point I wrote in my travel notebook: “China – developing world on steroids.”
In the financial sector, some of the largest banks in China, such as Shenzhen Development Bank, have their headquarters in Shenzhen. Most located in Luohu District, which is the financial and trading center of Shenzhen located in the center of the city adjacent to the border with Hong Kong. Shenzhen Stock Exchange handles 600,000 deals, valued at US$800 million, on a daily basis. Today, Shenzhen’s economic output is ranked 4th among Chinese cities (behind Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou). And for tomorrow, there are plans for integration with Hong Kong. According to some sources, if Hong Kong and Shenzhen will be combined together into one metropolitan area, it will be the 3rd largest in the world in GDP terms, only behind New York and Tokyo.
Short video can be found at: http://youtu.be/vGfl2SLj4Q8
Port of Shenzhen
It is one of the busiest and fastest growing ports in southern mainland China and one of the most important ports in terms of China’s international trade. There are actually 10 different areas or sometimes referred to as facilities to Port of Shenzhen. Shekou and Chiwan ports that I went to are only two of them. I actually went to see the Chiwan port, but instead found another historic site – the Tianhou Palace Temple. Temple sits at the foot of the hill surrounded by ship-container yards and more construction activity. There has been a temple here since 12th century and what you can see today is the reconstruction.
The original temple at Chiwan port was built for the goddess of sea, one of her statues in now inside the museum. Walking near by the endless construction site at Shekou port, which is not that far from Chiwan, I noticed advertisement for future developments on construction fences. One of them had depiction of yet another high-rise and it continued some distance away with the phrase “the world I want.” Further down the shore line another statue of what appeared to be a contemporary interpretation of sea goddess, only this time she was there to entertain the tourists. She used to look at an endless horizon behind her. Today, her view is blocked by residential towers. What awaits Shenzhen in the future we can only speculate about, but so far it is full of energy and tirelessly marching on.
Set of additional images can be found at: http://www.flickr.com//photos/irinanicolet/sets/72157632516912970/show/