Skyscrapers border the lush green landscaping in Shenzhen’s central business district. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
BUENOS AIRES – The success of China’s Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ) has demonstrated the effectiveness of the country’s reform and opening-up, Argentine academic Patricio Giusto said on Thursday.
“Shenzhen is an impressive city due to its level of development and value chains that are integrated into its economy. Besides having one of the main stock exchanges in the world, it is the headquarters of such companies as ZTE and Huawei, among other technological firms,” Giusto, director of the Sino-Argentine Observatory, said in an interview with Xinhua.
Being created four decades ago, the SEZ has driven the city’s development, making it “a very attractive place for foreign direct investment, where not only Chinese companies, but also firms from the rest of Asia and the world have sought to establish themselves under the ideal condition,” said Giusto.
“It was a practically non-existent city 40 years ago, one of the poorest places in Guangdong province, and today it is the most important city, eclipsing the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and other cities in China, like Shanghai,” he said.
“Because it was built from scratch, there is no doubt that Shenzhen is an impressive symbol, perhaps the most representative, of the reform and opening-up process,” the expert added.
After four decades of rapid development, Shenzhen now ranks fifth among Asian cities in terms of gross domestic product, which expanded at an annual rate of 20.7 percent to reach 2.7 trillion yuan ($400.1 billion) in 2019, up from 270 million yuan ($40 million) in 1980.
“What has been demonstrated in Shenzhen with its development model is that there may be a place where optimal conditions of competitiveness are generated between different economic actors, where development and technological innovation are favored with incentives from the state, along with living conditions that are also optimal for the local population,” said Giusto, who is also head of consulting firm Diagnostico Politico.
In his view, the Chinese model integrates free market practices, economic openness, promotion of foreign investment and exports, in balance with the role of the state, which ensures free competition and healthy living environment for the population, with good public services, good integration between urban and rural areas, and with a sustainable development model.
Shenzhen has been at the forefront of China’s reform and opening-up, leading to an impressive economic takeoff that left behind a very precarious economy with cheap manufacturing and assembly to become a center of innovation rivaling Silicon Valley, and a bustling financial center, said Giusto.
China aims to turn Shenzhen into a showcase of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the next five years by introducing a series of reforms to optimize its business environment, improve its urban infrastructure, attract foreign talent, and further raise its living standards, he noted.
To transform Shenzhen, the undisputed beacon of China’s economic development, into a paragon on a global scale, is an ambitious goal, but if one looks at the trajectory of the city in recent years, it is highly foreseeable, Giusto said.