President Hu Jintao made a speech in Shenzhen on Monday giving his support to the city and other special economic zones (SEZs), which have proved among the most successful experiments in China's reform and opening up during the last 30 years.
The SEZs, led by the example of Shenzhen, have shown how fast China has been able to build industry and cities virtually from scratch, by combining government determination with market resources.
Even a casual look at how well Shenzhen, a city of merely 30 years' history, is integrated with neighboring Hong Kong, a former British colony and an international financial center, in business and in daily life, gives one an appreciation of the progress that has been made.
In his speech, Hu praised Shenzhen as a Chinese "miracle in industrialization, urbanization, and modernization." He also said that the SEZs are not just a passing phenomenon.
China has not reached the end of its transformation now that the whole country is accessible to international investment and edging towards the SEZs' manufacturing capabilities and living standards. The process, begun 30 years ago, by its chief designer Deng Xiaoping, is meant to deliver to the Chinese people much greater success.
Social experiments and pilot projects - including ways of doing things that have never tried before - are always useful for strengthening leadership and building support.
Shenzhen's significance is not just limited to its economic development. President Hu said he expects Shenzhen to take greater initiative in the future, to pursue even more pioneering undertakings in reform and opening up. For the city's enterprising people, that must appear as an endorsement from Beijing for their plans and new ambitions.
In his recent trip to Shenzhen, Premier Wen Jiabao said SEZs should be pioneers, not just in economic reform, but also in government reform.
Contrary to the speculation that the SEZs are losing their luster and to the allegation that the SEZs have only increased the income gap, Deng's reform design will always stay with China and serve its overall development.
(China Daily 09/07/2010 page8)