Shenzhen: Gateway to China’s roaring economy
By Nick Macfie
I first arrived in Hong Kong in 1982 and stayed, on and off, for 14 years. One of the most exciting day trips for tourists to the British colony back in those days was to the border, by clattering, non-air-conditioned train and then a short taxi drive to a vantage point, close to the fancy Fanling Golf Club, where you could look across the paddy fields at the stange goings-on in Communist China.
Old Hakka women in their broad-rimmed hats would pester you to buy postcards and Mao badges as you peered by telescope at what was once the tiny fishing village of Shenzhen to watch the villagers in their Mao suits go about their business — leading ducks down narrow paths between the rice fields, or carting vegetables on baskets hung over shoulders on bouncing, bamboo poles. Hong Kong farmers were doing the same thing in the New Territories, but this was fascinating, Communist China!
Shenzhen, thanks to the reforms of Deng Xiaoping, became a hugely successful “special economic zone” of China and now is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world with a population of 8.6 million and a skyline to match Hong Kong.
Perhaps there is a place in Shenzhen where people now look across the border to quaint old Hong Kong…