EYESHENZHEN  /   Opinion

Perplexing and perplexed SZ

Writer: Winton Dong  |  Editor: Jane Chen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2020-08-04

Aug. 26, 2020 will be the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone.

Forty years of age is an important dividing line for a person. According to the Analects of Confucius, an ancient Chinese philosopher, people will gradually mature and no longer suffer from perplexities at the age of 40.

Chinese believe in dialectical materialism, which maintains the material basis of a reality constantly changing in a dialectical process and the priority of matter over mind. With such a theory as guidance, 40-year-old Shenzhen is still young and relatively immature. In spite of great achievements in the past four decades, the city is still both perplexing and perplexed in several ways.

Shenzhen has been perplexing and dazzling the world by its rapid and steady development. As China's first and most successful special economic zone, Shenzhen has undoubtedly been both an epitome and one of the largest beneficiaries of the reform and opening-up policies. Supported by the Central Government, Shenzhen has created more than 100 "firsts" in China. For instance, Shenzhen developed the first commercial housing estate for sale in the country as early as in 1980, when housing was supposed to be rationed by the government. China's first stock certificates for Shen Bao'an, short for China Bao'an Group Co. Ltd., were issued in the city in 1983, when the stock market was deemed by many people as a symbol of capitalism. In 1987, the city held the first public land auction in China, a historic step that heralded the 1988 amendment to the Constitution that allowed land use rights to be traded for the first time since 1949.

Due to its pioneering and innovative spirit, Shenzhen, originally a small fishing town, has developed into an international metropolis, with its GDP multiplying more than 11,000 times during the past 40 years. The young city's GDP has successively overtaken Guangzhou and Hong Kong in recent years, which means it has become the largest city within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in terms of economic strength.

The road to prosperity is uneven. Shenzhen was also deeply perplexed at various crossroads during the process of its development. For example, after China's introduction of reform and opening-up policies more than 40 years ago, some cities such as Shenzhen and Dongguan seized the chance to enter a boom of export-oriented and labor-intensive economic expansion. When the traditional and low-end processing industries lost steam, Shenzhen was perplexed for quite some time about its future. The city then initiated painstaking industrial transformation and economic upgrading. With high and new technologies becoming the main driving forces, Shenzhen now boasts many internationally famous high-tech companies such as Huawei, Tencent, ZTE and DJI.

With marked increase in its economic strength and regional competitiveness, Shenzhen will surely play a greater and greater role in the Greater Bay Area and even in China. However, today's domestic and international situations are totally different from those of the 1980s. To gather new momentum, further opening up remains the choice of China after 40 years' practice. The pioneering city Shenzhen is now also perplexed by many issues such as showing its comparative advantages in the Greater Bay Area, facilitating effective and efficient flow of various factors of production, further optimizing industrial structure and resources allocation, improving business investment and trade liberalization, sharpening its innovative and technological edges, ensuring alignment with international norms and regulatory standards, bringing the less-developed areas on par with the developed ones and building a more pleasant ecological environment.

Pioneering and innovation may lead to unpredictable outcomes and are even risky sometimes, so the market, not the government, is more competent in selecting the winners. Under these circumstances, as the country's innovation hub, Shenzhen will accumulate more experience and make more contributions to the country's sustainable development by tiding over more and more perplexities in the future.

(The author is the editor-in-chief of Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)