EYESHENZHEN  /   Opinion

What's behind Shenzhen's success

Writer: Shujian Zhang  |  Editor: Jane Chen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2021-11-15

It is one of the most exciting chapters in New China's history that a small fishing town four decades ago surpassed Hong Kong in GDP in 2018. Now the whole world knows its name – Shenzhen. But something even more meaningful for China is to reveal what Shenzhen's narrative of achievement has told the world. The success of the city shows that the Communist Party of China led the country in making the historical contribution of socialist modernization and explains what socialism with Chinese characteristics is and how to develop it.

The exploration of a socialist market economic system with Chinese wisdom and courage

The logical starting point of Shenzhen's development was not only a strong theoretical mission of exploring a socialist system, but also a realistic mission of creating a sustainable path for national prosperity. The primary agenda of reform and opening up is to adjust production relations to meet the requirements of the development of production capability, making the enhanced mobilization of means of production possible. The Central Government authorized Shenzhen to implement market regulation mechanisms, and in response the city vigorously promoted ownership reform, developed a mixed ownership economy, introduced foreign-funded enterprises and boosted the private sector.

At the beginning of the establishment of the city, Shenzhen started to carry out a series of price reforms aimed at establishing a market price system under macro-control. The Reform Plan of Land Management System was promulgated in 1987 to transfer State-owned land to users by public auction, bidding and agreement, making Shenzhen the first city in China to liberalize the land market. After Deng Xiaoping clearly established the Four Cardinal Principles, the incremental omnibus institutional reform successfully launched all major strategic initiatives under the guidance of the country's top policymakers.

Stable political order ensures modern governance

A long-term stable political order is important for the success of China's incremental reform. The Central Government chose Shenzhen as a pilot city to conduct reform and opening-up experiments rather than using shock therapy to overturn everything, which fully considered the overall social stability and avoided consequential major political risks. The city then took the lead in handling the relationship between the government and the market through the major reform of streamlining administrations, delegating power, combining regulations and optimizing services.

Shenzhen explored the system of a People's Congress workstation that constructed a multi-participation platform for communication, consultation, dialogue and coordination between the residents of the new community, relevant departments of the Party and government, NPC deputies and enterprises in the area. This mechanism has become an effective vehicle for NPC deputies to perform their duties when they are not in session, playing a positive role in gradually promoting community-level democracy.

To build a global benchmark city with Chinese characteristics

The Communist Party of China inherited and promotes Karl Marx’s dialectical materialism thought. While adhering to economic globalization and integration, China respects the multi-polarization and diversity of the world and wants to participate in building an open world economy featuring cooperation, innovation and shared benefits, and establish a community with a shared future for humankind.

Shenzhen is known as the City of Internet, with the largest internet communication equipment enterprise and the largest social media application enterprise in China. More and more young talents from home and abroad who are involved with the industrial chain migrate to Shenzhen; however, they may not be well integrated into the culture and traditions of the city. Shenzhen needs to further promote diverse and inclusive urban cultures with a good combination of international and local features.

What's next in the new era

Just as in a football match, Shenzhen's development has entered the second half. In the process of further reform, the city strives to follow global scientific and technological advances, as the municipal government has invested considerable resources in the construction of high-end experimental sites and equipment, and is speeding up efforts to seek cooperation with famous universities and research institutes at home and abroad.

On its way to help build a world-class city agglomeration in the Greater Bay Area, Shenzhen undoubtedly needs to strengthen its cooperation with other cities in the region. The Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone is a rare opportunity for the city to optimize the business environment. In October 2021, the Hong Kong SAR Government launched its giant plan for the Northern Metropolitan Area, which is the best opportunity for Shenzhen and Hong Kong to jointly set up a science and technology innovation cooperation zone. Developing in-depth collaboration with Hong Kong in some pressing fields such as digital economy, RMB internationalization and cross-border financial regulation means a bigger picture for Shenzhen, while it's also an arduous political task for the city to invite Hong Kong to join in the events.

(The author is an associate professor at the School of Government, Shenzhen University.)