Geographia Polonica (2005) vol. 78, iss. 1

The Birth and Development of a Modern Socialist City: Shenzhen, China

Mee Kaming, Wing-shing Tang

Geographia Polonica (2005) vol. 78, iss. 1, pp. 151-162 | Full text

One of the first Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in an opening China since late 1970s, Shenzhen municipality is a 'globalizing' socialist city. This paper discusses the Shenzhen experi-ment. Four interrelated underlying forces are investigated: central government policies, needs and trends of foreign direct investment, ever changing regional and local urban realities, and local governance and plan making processes. The Shenzhen SEZ first planned by the central government, has faced almost continuous challenges since its establishment. Centrally planned master blueprints and the mode of urban governance have imposed constraints on Shenzhen's ability to cope with changing trends of foreign investment: from simple processing and assem-bly works to high-technology investment. The spatial structures and institutions established in the early days then had presented Shenzhen with many difficulties in her course of socio-eco-nomic and adminstrative restructuring. Planners are also challenged by sustainability demands of conserving the environment and promoting social welfare when economic development takes place. Shenzhen proved to be a difficult yet exciting experiment for socialist planners to build a 'modern' city in an age of globalization.

Keywords: globalizing socialist city, socialist economy, central-local relationships, urban develop-ment and planning, Shenzhen, China

Mee Kaming, Centre of Urban Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Hong Kong Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
Wing-shing Tang, Department of Geography, Hong Kong Baptist University Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong