Shenzhen, China

Shenzhen [“shen” means “deep” and “zhen” means “drains”] developed as a fishing village patterned with deep drains in the 17th century. The area remained a village until China’s Open Door Policy was developed in 1978. Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping Shenzhen became one of the first Special Economic Zones, a “window” for observing global trends in economic, scientific, technical, and managerial/market deviations and an experimental space for economic reforms. The city was selected due to its proximity to Hong Kong and ability for export as a coastal city.

Beginning in 1980 the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone was built from scratch. The former farmers became wealthy landowners with their valuable properties within the city. Government bureaus and executive units were transformed into economic entities by 1982, and by 1984 the economy become more export-oriented. From 1986 to the 1990s Shenzhen went under a restructuring phase. In 1988 the government lost control over the economic enterprises in the city. The mid-1990s were marked by a re-engineering phase in which strategies were deployed to develop the city into a city with modern environment and booming economy.

2007 marked the opening of the OCT-LOFT art park region created from renovated factory buildings. Shenzhen was named a member of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network and awarded the title of City of Design by UNESCO in 2008. In 2009, Shenzhen created plans to promote development of biotech, new energy, and Internet industries, which quickly became and continue to become vessels of economic growth. Shenzhen acts as the high-tech manufacturing hub in southern China.

In 1979 Shenzhen was a small fishing village consisting of 30,000 people. By 2003 that number reached 4.69 million and by 2010 the population reached over 10 million permanent residents. With attractions like “Windows of the World,” a park consisting of reproductions of some of the most famous world tourist attractions, and “Minsk World,” a military theme park, it is no wonder that Shenzhen is a tourist destination.