Go on, SEZ

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-08-24 09:35
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Many things have been planned to mark the 30th anniversary of China's first four "special economic zones" (SEZs), cities designated to open up to global investment and business partnerships. But Premier Wen Jiabao's weekend visit to Shenzhen, the largest SEZ and now a flourishing business city in South China, was of extraordinary importance.

For the Chinese nation to achieve its future goal and to regain its past glory it will have no choice but to continue its reform and opening to the world.

"Grinding to a halt or backtracking would only prove suicidal in the end," the Premier said.

Guangdong is the province where three of the four initial SEZs were located and they became the driver for the province to provide one quarter of the nation's exports.

Soon enough, that model of change was followed by other cities with similar geographic convenience, allowing foreign investment and export business to spread to virtually the entire China coast.

But the transformation has not been without controversy, with some arguing that the coastal cities' development model, led by export-oriented manufacturing, cannot be applied to all cities and is perhaps no longer as beneficial as before, especially considering environmental constraints.

In the meantime, the SEZs have also been conscious of where their shortcomings are in non-business areas. They are busy matching their economic progress with social services and political initiatives.

It was encouraging to hear Premier Wen promise his support to Shenzhen's efforts to boost residents' confidence and sense of security and take care of the low-income and other disadvantaged groups.

All these will be done, as Wen rightly put it, through continuing the reform process that China embarked upon 30 years ago, under the guidance of Deng Xiaoping and his comrades. And he has full reason to expect the SEZs, which used to show the way forward for the rest of China, to go on and yield fresh, eye-opening experiences.