Shenzhen's novel and modern cityscape is the result of the vibrant economy made possible by rapid foreign investment since the late 1970s, when it was but a small fishing village. Since then, foreign nationals have invested more than US$30 billion for building factories and forming joint ventures. It is now reputedly one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Being southern China's major financial centre, Shenzhen is home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange as well as the headquarters of numerous high-tech companies. Shenzhen is also the second busiest port in mainland China, ranking only after Shanghai.
The location was chosen to attract industrial investments from Hong Kong since the two places are near each other and share the same culture. The concept proved successful, propelling the further opening up of China and continuous economic reform. Shenzhen eventually became one of the largest cities in the Pearl River Delta region, which has become one of the economic powerhouses of China as well as the largest manufacturing base in the world.
Shenzhen, formerly known as Bao'an County (宝安县), was promoted to prefecture level, directly governed by Guangdong province, in November 1979. In May 1980, Shenzhen was formally nominated as a "special economic zone", the first one of its kind in China. It was given the right of provincial-level economic administration in November 1988.
Shenzhen is the earliest of the five special economic zones in China. Deng Xiaoping is usually credited with the opening up of economic revival in China, often epitomized with the city of Shenzhen, which profited the most from the first legacies of Deng.
Shenzhen was originally a mountainous area, with fertile agrarian land. However, after the introduction of special economic zone in 1979, Shenzhen underwent tremendous change in landscape. The once hilly fishing village is now replaced by mostly flat ground in downtown area, with only Lianhua Shan (Lotus Hill), Bijia Shan (Bijia Mountain) and Wutong Shan the only three places that have some kind of elevation viewed from satellites. With the influx of emigrants from inland China, Shenzhen is experiencing a second stage boom, and it is now expanding peripherally and the hills in surrounding areas such as Mission Hills are now being toppled over to make land for more development.
Shenzhen is located on the border with the Hong Kong SAR across the Sham Chun River and Sha Tau Kok River, 100 km southeast of the provincial capital of Guangzhou, and 60 km south of the industrial city of Dongguan. To the southwest, the resort city of Zhuhai is a 60 km away.
|Name||Chinese characters (Hanzi) 罗湖|
|Hanyu Pinyin Luohu|
The Special Economic Zone comprises Luohu, Futian, Nanshan, and Yantian but not Bao'an and Longgang.
Located in the centre of the SEZ and adjacent to Hong Kong, Luohu is the financial and trading centre. It covers an area of 78.89 km². Futian, where the Municipal Government is situated, is at the heart of the SEZ and covers an area of 78.04 km². Covering an area of 164.29 km², Nanshan is the centre for high-tech industries and it is situated in the west of the SEZ. Outside the SEZ, Bao'an (712.92 km²) and Longgang (844.07 km²) are located to the north-west and north-east of Shenzhen respectively. Yantian (75.68 km²) is known for logistics. Yantian Port is the second largest deepwater container terminal in China and 4th largest in the world.
There had been migration into southern Guangdong and what is now Shenzhen since the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) but the numbers increased dramatically since Shenzhen was established in the 1980s. In Guangdong, it is the only city where Mandarin is mostly spoken, with migrants from all over China. At present, the average age in Shenzhen is less than 30. Among the total, 8.49 percent are between the age of 0 and 14, 88.41 percent between the age of 15 and 59, one-fifth between 20 and 24 and 1.22 percent are aged 65 or above.
The population structure polarizes into two opposing extremes: intellectuals with a high level of education, and migrant workers with poor education. It was reported in June 2007 that over 20 percent of China's PhD's worked in Shenzhen.
According to the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, in 2002, 7,200 Hong Kong residents commuted daily to Shenzhen for work, and 2,200 students from Shenzhen commuted to school in Hong Kong. Though neighbouring each other, daily commuters still need to pass through customs and immigration checkpoints, as travel between the SEZ and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) is restricted.
In late July 2003, China relaxed travel restrictions to allow individuals from the southern cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as Beijing and Shanghai, to visit Hong Kong. Previously, mainland travelers could only visit the city as part of tour groups. (See Individual Visit Scheme.)
Immigration into Shenzhen from the Chinese interior is heavily restricted by the hukou system. One consequence is that just outside of Shenzhen there are large towns consisting of a large number of migrants from the Chinese interior who attempt to enter the city.
Shenzhen is a major manufacturing centre in China. In the 1990s, Shenzhen was described as, "one highrise a day and one boulevard every three days". The Shenzhen skyline has 13 buildings at over 200 metres tall, including the Shun Hing Square (the 9th tallest building in the world).
Shenzhen is home to some of China's most successful high-tech companies, such as Huawei, Tencent and ZTE. A number of foreign IT companies also have facilities in the city. Taiwan's largest company Hon Hai Group has a manufacturing plant based in Shenzhen which makes most of the iPods, iPhones and notebooks for Apple, Inc. Lenovo, the Chinese conglomerate that bought the personal computing division of IBM in 2005, manufactures its line of ThinkPad notebook computers in Shenzhen. IBM has a joint venture in Shenzhen manufacturing server products. Many of these foreign high-tech companies have their operations in the Science and Technology park in Nanshan District or outside the core districts where labor and land are much cheaper. In the financial sector, China Merchants' Bank, one of the largest banks in China, has its headquarters in Shenzhen. Shenzhen City Commercial Bank, Ping An Insurance and Wal-Mart China are also based in the city.
In 2007, the GDP reached a record high of 676.54 billion yuan, an increase of 14.7% over 2006. Shenzhen's economic output is ranked seventh among the 659 Chinese cities, and it is comparable to that of a medium sized province in China. In 2007, Shenzhen's GDP per capita was 79,221 yuan (US$10,628), ranking seventh among the 659 Chinese cities.
Since its creation in 1990, the SSE has grown with a market capitalization around 1 trillion yuan (US$122 billion). On a daily basis, around 600,000 deals, valued at US$807 million, trade on the SSE.
China's securities market is undergoing fundamental changes. The implementation of the new securities law, company law, self-innovation strategy as well as the development of non-tradable share reform embodies enormous opportunities to the market. Adhering to the principle of "Regulation, Innovation, Cultivation and Service", the SSE is focused on developing the Small and Medium Enterprises Board, while seeking a loose tier market.
The initial public offering (IPO) activity in Shenzhen stock exchange was suspended from September 2000 as the Chinese government pondered merging its bourses into a single exchange in Shanghai and launched a Nasdaq-style second board in Shenzhen aimed at private and technology companies.
Shenzhen is home to the world's ninth tallest building, the Shun Hing Square (Diwang Building). Shenzhen has built 23 buildings over 200 metres, mostly in the Luohu and Futian districts. The second tallest building in Shenzhen is SEG Plaza at a height of 356 meters (292 meters to roof-top). It is located in the commercial and shopping district of Hua Qiang Bei (华强北).
Shenzhen has some of the largest public projects in China. The International Trade Center (国贸), built in 1985, was the tallest building in China when built, and the Shun Hing building was also the tallest in Asia when it was built (still the tallest steel building in the world).
Shenzhen is also the site for many tall building projects. Some of the supertalls that have been either proposed or approved are well over 400 meters. The current tallest building under construction is the 439 metre tall Kingkey Finance Tower, which will be finished in 2010. Other proposed buildings would surpass the Kingkey Finance Tower's height by 2015.
As of December 2007, there are six land crossing points on the boundary between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. From west to east these are Shenzhen Bay Port road crossing (opened 1st July 2007); Huanggang to Lok Ma Chau rail connection linking Shenzhen Metro Line 4 to the MTR East Rail Line Lok Ma Chau Extension (opened 15th August 2007); Huanggang to Lok Ma Chau road connection; Futian to Man Kam To road connection; Luohu to Lo Wu rail connection linking the MTR East Rail Line to Shenzhen Metro Line 1, Shenzhen Rail Station and Luohu in general; and the Shatoujiao to Sha Tau Kok road connection. Both of the rail connections require the passengers to cross the Shenzhen River on foot as there is no direct rail connection between the two cities, although the Hong Kong intercity trains to other mainland cities pass through Shenzhen without stopping. In 2006, there were around 20,500 daily vehicular crossings of the boundary in each direction. Of these 65 percent were goods vehicles, 27 percent cars and the remainder buses and coaches. The Huanggang crossing was most heavily used at 76 percent of the total, followed by the Futian crossing at 18 percent and Shatoujiao at 6 percent. Of the goods vehicles, 12,000 per day were container carrying and, using a rate of 1.44 teus/vehicle, this results in 17,000 teus/day across the boundary, while Hong Kong port handled 23,000 teus/day during 2006, excluding transshipment trade.
Trade with Hong Kong in 2006 consisted of US$333 billion of imports of which US$298 billion were re-exported. Of these figures 94 percent were associated with China. Considering that 34.5 percent of the value of Hong Kong trade is air freight (only 1.3 percent by weight), a large proportion of this is associated with China as well.
Also in 2006 the average daily passenger flow through the four connections open at that time was over 200,000 in each direction of which 63 percent used the Luohu rail connection and 33 percent the Huanggang road connection. Naturally, such high volumes require special handling, and the largest group of people crossing the boundary, Hong Kong residents with Chinese citizenship, use only a biometric ID card (Home Return Permit)and a thumb print reader. As a point of comparison, Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok Airport, the 5th busiest international airport in the World, handled 59,000 passengers per day in each direction.
Hong Kong conducts regular surveys of cross-boundary passenger movements, with the most recent being in 2003, although the 2007 survey will be reported on soon. In 2003 the boundary crossings for Hong Kong Residents living in Hong Kong made 78 percent of the trips, up by 33 percent from 1999, whereas Hong Kong and Chinese residents of China made up 20 percent in 2006, an increase of 140 percent above the 1999 figure. Since that time movement has been made much easier for China residents, and so that group have probably increased further yet. Other nationalities made up 2 percent of boundary crossings. Of these trips 67 percent were associated with Shenzhen and 42 percent were for business or work purposes. Of the non-business trips about one third were to visit friends and relatives and the remainder for leisure.
Apart from the business and family trips, many Hong Kong and overseas visitors to Shenzhen go for the shopping, where goods and services are supposedly far cheaper than those in Hong Kong. However, without coming prepared knowing the prices of specific items the goods may end up being far more expensive than in Hong Kong while others are only marginally cheaper, even after a long phase of negotiating.
The shopping mall most visited by day-tourists is Lo Wu Commercial City, situated close Luohu border crossing. This contains an overwhelming array of beauty parlours and stores selling clothes, handbags (usually fake-designer), fabric, jewellery and electrical goods as well as many vendors of pirated software, DVDs, counterfeit goods and mobile phones. With the number of tourists, it is also a popular location for prostitution, drugs, pickpockets and begging. However, riding two stops on the Shenzhen Metro would bring them to Lao Jie Station for the Dongmen shopping area, and four stops to Hua Qiang Bei, which are the shopping areas most favoured by locals.
The other reasons for Hong Kong tourists to visit Shenzhen are the restaurants from many provinces, usually at a cost of one quarter that of Hong Kong and often of superior quality, and the genuine massage and beauty parlours at about one tenth the cost of Hong Kong. However, the ability to read or speak Chinese is necessary.
Jointly developing a world-class metropolis with Shenzhen: In my Election Platform, I have put forward the vision of developing the Hong Kong-Shenzhen metropolis and undertaken to strengthen our co-operation. My proposals met with positive responses from the Shenzhen authorities. We share a common goal and have had some preliminary exchange of views. Currently, we are discussing airport collaboration and the development of the Lok Ma Chau Loop.
On 21 November 2007, the Shenzhen Government officially endorsed this policy and included it in the Shenzhen planning blueprint for the period up to 2020. It was announced that Shenzhen mayor, Xu Zongheng, would visit Hong Kong in December 2007 to sign a metropolis agreement with the SAR government.
The plans were originally detailed by the Hong Kong non-governmental think tank, Bauhinia Research Foundation in August 2007, and covered such matters as financial services, hi-tech and high-end research and development, transport, environmental matters and ecology. It was claimed that Shenzhen-Hong Kong could be the third largest metropolis in GDP terms by 2020, only behind New York City and Tokyo. The plan was also endorsed by the China Development Institute, a Shenzhen-based non-government think tank.
Situated in the Pearl River Delta in China’s Guangdong Province, Shenzhen Port is adjacent to Hong Kong. The city’s 260 km coastline is divided by the Kowloon Peninsula into two halves, the eastern and the western. Shenzhen’s western port area lies to the east of Lingdingyang in the Pearl River Estuary and possesses a deep water harbour with superb natural shelters. It is about 20 sea miles from Hong Kong to the south and 60 sea miles from Guangzhou to the north. By passing Pearl River system, the western port area is connected with the cities and counties in Pearl River Delta networks; by passing On See Dun waterway, it extends all ports both at home and abroad. The eastern port area lies north of Dapeng Bay where the harbour is wide and calm and is regarded as the best natural harbour in South China.
Shenzhen handled a record number of containers in 2005, ranking as the world's fourth-busiest port, after rising trade increased cargo shipments through the southern Chinese city. Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, China Merchants Holdings (International) Co. and other operators of the port handled 16.2 million standard boxes last year, a 19 per cent increase.
Investors in Shenzhen are expanding to take advantage of rising volume. Hong Kong-based Hutchison, the world's biggest port operator, and its mainland Chinese partner plan to add six berths at Yantian by 2010, bringing the total to 15. The company also plans to pay its parent company HK$2.07 billion (US$265 million) for land at Shekou to expand its cargo business.
There is another railway station located in Nanshan District, Shenzhen Xi, which is used for a small number of long distance trains, such as the one to Hefei.
The Shenzhen Metro system opened on 27 December 2004. It has two lines, one from Luohu (Lo Wu & Shenzhen railway stations) to Window of the World, and the other from Huanggang to Shaonian gong (youth palace).
Shenzhen has shorelines in its southwest and southeast and the city is home to some of the most popular and best beaches in China. Beaches like Dameisha and Xiaomeisha are often crowded with locals and tourists. The second best beach in China, the Xichong beach, is just one hour drive from downtown Shenzhen, and it till retains its age old natural beauties.
Since February 2003, the road border crossing at Huanggang and Lok Ma Chau in Hong Kong has been open 24 hours a day. The journey can be made by private vehicle or by bus. On 15 August 2007, the Lok Ma Chau-Huanggang pedestrian border crossing opened, linking Lok Ma Chau Station with Huanggang. With the opening of the crossing, shuttle buses between Lok Ma Chau transport interchange and Huanggang were terminated.
Taxis are metered and come in three colors. Red taxis may travel anywhere; green ones are restricted to outside the SEZ, and yellow ones are restricted to inside the SEZ.
There are also frequent bus and van services from Hong Kong International Airport to Huanggang and most major hotels in Shenzhen.
Shenzhen's major tourist attractions include the Chinese Folk Culture Village, the Window of the World, Happy Valley, Splendid China, the Safari Park in Nanshan district, the Dameisha Promenade, Xiaomeisha Beach Resort in Yantian district, Zhongying Jie / Chung Ying Street, Xianhu Lake Botanical Garden, and Minsk World. The city also offers free admission to a number of public parks including the Lianhuashan Park, Lizhi Park, Zhongshan Park and Wutongshan Park. Shenzhen offers a great variety of cuisines that its numerous restaurants provide.
Most tourists, however, choose to stay in a largely expatriate and exotic residential community called Shekou, home to a large French cruise liner cemented into the ground called Sea World. Shekou was expanded and renovated in recent years, including claiming additional land from the sea.