Shenzhen – Steadfast in Sustaining the Reform and Opening-up Policy

By staff reporters PEDRO LAGO & LUO YAO

VISITING Shenzhen affords an interesting return journey through the history of the reform and opening-up policy. Already 35 years have passed since December 1978 when the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China decided to open up the country and reform its economy.

When Shenzhen was established as a city in 1979, only 30,000 fishermen resided there – although recorded human activity in the area dates back more than 6,700 years. Three hundred years ago, its Hakka community had migrated to the township from central China.

Since the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), there has been migration to southern Guangdong – into today’s Shenzhen area. Since Shenzhen was declared a city, the population has increased dramatically. By the end of 2012, its residents reached 10.55 million, of which 2.87 million were registered.

Covering 1,991 square kilometers, with a subtropical oceanic climate of plentiful rainfall and sunshine, Shenzhen has been recognized as the most favored city for migrant workers. At the same time, it is deemed an ideal locale for talented Chinese and foreigners to start up businesses, owing to its environment of fairness, tolerance and innovative spirit.

In 2012, Shenzhen ranked second on the Forbes China list of 25 mainland cities with the strongest innovation capacity. The city’s development goals for the coming years offer a refreshing vision – to become a pilot area for a comprehensive national reform program, an economic center of China, a city for national innovation, a model city of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and a cosmopolis.

According to the 2013 China’s Urban Competitiveness Blue Book, published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), as the second most competitive city after Hong Kong, Shenzhen does not rest on its laurels. It continually proves itself through healthy economic growth, booming for over three decades.

In 2012, Shenzhen’s GDP grew by 10 percent over 2011, reaching RMB 1.3 trillion – representing the fourth highest growth rate on China’s mainland. Also, as the fourth largest mainland city in terms of economic power, Shenzhen’s export volume has maintained pole position among China’s large and medium-sized cities over 20 consecutive years.

Of the Fortune Global 500 companies, 192 have set up branches in Shenzhen. In 2012, the total import and export value of the city topped US $466 billion, growing by 12.8 percent compared to 2011 – accounting for 12.1 percent of national import and export value. Furthermore, foreign investment in Shenzhen has grown by 13.7 percent year on year, amounting to US $5.23 billion.

Innovations in science and technology have spurred the city’s development. Its total value of high-tech products in 2012 grew by 8.9 percent over the previous year, reaching RMB 1.29 trillion, representing 58.5 percent of the city’s total industrial output value. In the same year, spending on scientific research was RMB 48.2 billion, accounting for 3.81 percent of the city’s GDP, making Shenzhen a leader on China’s mainland.

Shenzhen’s patent applications in 2012 totaled 73,130, with the number of software rights registrations reaching 12,374. On average, every 10,000 Shenzhen residents own 50 patents, far above the 3.3 patents per 10,000 people set as the national goal for 2015. By the end of 2012, over 2,800 companies in Shenzhen were recognized as national high-tech companies.

In August 2010, the Chinese government approved a plan to expand cooperation in the service sector between Shenzhen and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

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