In the past few decades, Shenzhen has wowed the world with its rapid economic development. In less than 40 years, the southern port city sharing a border with Hong Kong has evolved from a little-known fishing village to an international tech hub that incubated topnotch companies like Tencent (HKG: 0700), Huawei, and DJI.
At the height of their differences in 1997, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Asian financial center Hong Kong was once 11 times that of Shenzhen. Yet Shenzhen overtook its neighbor in 2018 due to the city’s breakneck growth.
It all started in 1979, when Shenzhen opened to foreign direct investment as China’s first “special economic zone.” While welcoming foreign funds into the city’s financial markets, setting grounds to build the country’s first commercial bank, first stock exchange, and even the first McDonald’s, the relaxed regulation and fundraising requirements created a frontier ripe for entrepreneurship.
Now, as China faces uncertainty and accelerates its national ambition to become a leader in deep tech and intelligent infrastructure, Shenzhen is handed a new mission: “Create another miracle in the next five years,” as the country’s leader Xi Jinping said during a visit to Shenzhen in October.
Granted greater autonomy in the decision-making process around legal, financial, technological, institutional, and social management, the new policy package is set to improve market access in sectors like energy, telecommunications, public utilities, transportation, and education.