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Shenzhen

Located in the Pearl River Delta, Shenzhen is a city of sub-provincial administrative status in southern China's Guangdong province, situated immediately north of Hong Kong. Owing to China's economic liberalization under the policies of reformist leader Deng Xiaoping, the area became China's first - and arguably one of the most successful - Special Economic Zones.  Shenzheng covers an area of 2,050 km²  including urban and rural areas, with a total population of 8,615,500, at the end of 2007. Among those, 2,123,800 had legal permanent residence. In Shenzhen, the sites of interest are: Splendid China & Chinese Folk Culture Park, Happy Valley, Windows of the World, Shenzhen Ocean World, Shenzhen East Overseas Chinese Town, Shenzhen Safari Park.

Shenzhen's novel and modern cityscape is the result of the vibrant economy made possible by rapid foreign investment since the late 1970s, when it was a small fishing village. Since then, foreign nationals have invested more than US$30 billion for building factories and forming joint ventures. It is now reputedly one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Being southern China's major financial centre, Shenzhen is home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange as well as the headquarters of numerous high-tech companies. Shenzhen is also the second busiest port in mainland China, ranking only after Shanghai.

History
Earliest known ancient records that carried the name of Shenzhen date from 1410 during the Ming Dynasty. Local people called the drains in paddy fields ('zhen', 圳). Shenzhen, 深圳 literally means 'deep drains' because the area used to be crisscrossed with rivers and streams, and there were deep drains in the paddy fields. Shenzhen became a township at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, and was renamed Xin'an and Bao'an later.

The one-time fishing village of Shenzhen was singled out by the late Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping to be the first of the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in China. It was formally established in 1979 due to its proximity to Hong Kong, then a prosperous British territory. The SEZ was created to be an experimental ground for the practice of market capitalism within a community guided by the ideals of "socialism with Chinese characteristics".

The location was chosen to attract industrial investments from Hong Kong since the two places are near each other and share the same culture. The concept proved successful, propelling the further opening up of China and continuous economic reform. Shenzhen eventually became one of the largest cities in the Pearl River Delta region, which has become one of the economic powerhouses of China as well as the largest manufacturing base in the world.

Shenzhen, formerly known as Bao'an County, was promoted to prefecture level, directly governed by Guangdong province, in November 1979. In May 1980, Shenzhen was formally nominated as a "special economic zone", the first one of its kind in China. It was given the right of provincial-level economic administration in November 1988.

Shenzhen is the earliest of the five special economic zones in China. Deng Xiaoping is usually credited with the opening up of economic revival in China, often epitomized with the city of Shenzhen, which benefited the most from the policies of Deng. For five months in 1996, Shenzhen was home to the Provisional Legislative Council and Provisional Executive Council of Hong Kong.

Geography
Shenzhen is a sub-tropical maritime region, with occasional tropical cyclones in summer and early autumn, with an average temperature of 22.4°C year-round (72°F) although daytime temperatures can exceed 35°C.

Shenzhen was originally a hilly area, with fertile agrarian land. However, after becoming a special economic zone in 1979, Shenzhen underwent tremendous change in landscape. The once hilly fishing village is now replaced by mostly flat ground in downtown area, with only Lianhua Shan (Lotus Hill), Bijia Shan (Bijia Mountain) and Wutong Shan the only three places that have some kind of elevation viewed from satellites. With the influx of emigrants from inland China, Shenzhen is experiencing a second stage boom, and it is now expanding peripherally and the hills in surrounding areas such as Mission Hills are now being toppled over to make land for more development.

Shenzhen is located on the border with the Hong Kong SAR across the Sham Chun River and Sha Tau Kok River, 100 km southeast of the provincial capital of Guangzhou, and 60 km south of the industrial city of Dongguan. To the southwest, the resort city of Zhuhai is a 60 km away.

Cityscape
View of Hua Qiang Bei road (Futian District) in Shenzhen, ChinaShenzhen is home to the world's ninth tallest building, the Shun Hing Square (Diwang Building). Shenzhen has built 23 buildings over 200 metres, mostly in the Luohu and Futian districts. The second tallest building in Shenzhen is SEG Plaza at a height of 356 meters (292 meters to roof-top). It is located in the commercial and shopping district of Hua Qiang Bei.

Shenzhen has some of the largest public projects in China. The International Trade Center, built in 1985, was the tallest building in China when built, and the Shun Hing building was also the tallest in Asia when it was built (still the tallest steel building in the world).

Shenzhen is also the site for many tall building projects. Some of the supertalls that have been either proposed or approved are well over 400 meters. The current tallest building under construction is the 439 metre tall Kingkey Finance Tower, which will be finished in 2010. Other proposed buildings would surpass the Kingkey Finance Tower's height by 2015.

Integration with Hong Kong
View of Shenzhen, as seen from Hong Kong's borderHong Kong and Shenzhen have very close business, trade and social links as demonstrated by the statistics presented below. Except where noted the statistics are taken from sections of the Hong Kong Government (HKG) website.

As of December 2007, there are six land crossing points on the boundary between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. From west to east these are Shenzhen Bay Port road crossing (opened 1 July 2007); Fu Tian Kou An to Lok Ma Chau rail connection linking Shenzhen Metro Line 4 to the MTR's East Rail Line Lok Ma Chau Spur Line (opened 15 August 2007); Huanggang to Lok Ma Chau road connection; Futian to Man Kam To road connection; Luohu to Lo Wu rail connection linking the MTR East Rail Line to Shenzhen Metro Line 1, Shenzhen Rail Station and Luohu in general; and the Shatoujiao to Sha Tau Kok road connection. Both of the rail connections require the passengers to cross the Shenzhen River on foot as there is no direct rail connection between the two cities, although the Hong Kong intercity trains to other mainland cities pass through Shenzhen without stopping.

In 2006, there were around 20,500 daily vehicular crossings of the boundary in each direction. Of these 65 percent were cargo vehicles, 27 percent cars and the remainder buses and coaches. The Huanggang crossing was most heavily used at 76 percent of the total, followed by the Futian crossing at 18 percent and Shatoujiao at 6 percent. Of the cargo vehicles, 12,000 per day were container carrying and, using a rate of 1.44 teus/vehicle, this results in 17,000 teus/day across the boundary, while Hong Kong port handled 23,000 teus/day during 2006, excluding transshipment trade.

Trade with Hong Kong in 2006 consisted of US$333 billion of imports of which US$298 billion were re-exported. Of these figures 94 percent were associated with China. Considering that 34.5 percent of the value of Hong Kong trade is air freight (only 1.3 percent by weight), a large proportion of this is associated with China as well.

Also in 2006 the average daily passenger flow through the four connections open at that time was over 200,000 in each direction of which 63 percent used the Luohu rail connection and 33 percent the Huanggang road connection. Naturally, such high volumes require special handling, and the largest group of people crossing the boundary, Hong Kong residents with Chinese citizenship, use only a biometric ID card (Home Return Permit) and a thumb print reader. As a point of comparison, Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport, the 5th busiest international airport in the World, handled 59,000 passengers per day in each direction.

Hong Kong conducts regular surveys of cross-boundary passenger movements, with the most recent being in 2003, although the 2007 survey will be reported on soon. In 2003 the boundary crossings for Hong Kong Residents living in Hong Kong made 78 percent of the trips, up by 33 percent from 1999, whereas Hong Kong and Chinese residents of China made up 20 percent in 2006, an increase of 140 percent above the 1999 figure. Since that time movement has been made much easier for China residents, and so that group have probably increased further yet. Other nationalities made up 2 percent of boundary crossings. Of these trips 67 percent were associated with Shenzhen and 42 percent were for business or work purposes. Of the non-business trips about one third were to visit friends and relatives and the remainder for leisure.

Apart from the business and family trips, many visitors come from Hong Kong to Shenzhen for the shopping, where goods and services are assumed cheaper than those in Hong Kong. However, without coming prepared knowing the prices of specific items the goods may end up being far more expensive than in Hong Kong while others are only marginally cheaper, even after a long phase of negotiating.

The shopping mall most visited by day-tourists is Lo Wu Commercial City, situated close Luohu border crossing. This contains an overwhelming array of beauty parlours and stores selling clothes, handbags (usually fake-designer), fabric, jewellery and electrical goods as well as many vendors of pirated software, DVDs, counterfeit goods and mobile phones. With the number of tourists, it is also a popular location for prostitution, drugs, pickpockets and begging. However, riding two stops on the Shenzhen Metro would bring them to Lao Jie Station for the Dongmen shopping area, or five stops to Hua Qiang Bei, which are the shopping areas most favoured by locals.

The other reasons for Hong Kong tourists to visit Shenzhen are the restaurants from many provinces, usually at a cost of one quarter that of Hong Kong, and the genuine massage and beauty parlours at about one tenth the cost of Hong Kong.

Future Integration Plans
In Section 114 of the policy address on 10 October 2007, Donald Tsang, Hong Kong Chief Executive, stated:

Jointly developing a world-class metropolis with Shenzhen: In my Election Platform, I have put forward the vision of developing the Hong Kong-Shenzhen metropolis and undertaken to strengthen our co-operation. My proposals met with positive responses from the Shenzhen authorities. We share a common goal and have had some preliminary exchange of views. Currently, we are discussing airport collaboration and the development of the Lok Ma Chau Loop.

On 21 November 2007, the Shenzhen Government officially endorsed this policy and included it in the Shenzhen planning blueprint for the period up to 2020. It was announced that Shenzhen mayor, Xu Zongheng, would visit Hong Kong in December 2007 to sign a metropolis agreement with the SAR government.

The plans were originally detailed by the Hong Kong non-governmental think tank, Bauhinia Research Foundation in August 2007, and covered such matters as financial services, hi-tech and high-end research and development, transport, environmental matters and ecology. It was claimed that Shenzhen-Hong Kong could be the third largest metropolis in the world in GDP terms by 2020, only behind New York City and Tokyo. The plan was also endorsed by the China Development Institute, a Shenzhen-based non-government think tank

Shenzhen Tourism
Shenzhen's major tourist attractions include the Chinese Folk Culture Village, the Window of the World, Happy Valley, Splendid China, the Safari Park in Nanshan district, the Dameisha Promenade, Xiaomeisha Beach Resort in Yantian district, Zhongying Jie/Chung Ying Street, Xianhu Lake Botanical Garden, and Minsk World. The city also offers free admission to a number of public parks including the Lianhuashan Park, Lizhi Park, Zhongshan Park and Wutongshan Park. Shenzhen offers a wide variety of cuisines that its numerous restaurants provide.

Some tourists, however, choose to stay in a largely expatriate and exotic residential community called Shekou, home to a large French cruise liner cemented into the ground called Sea World Shekou was expanded and renovated in recent years, including claiming additional land from the sea. Shenzhen's central music hall and library are located in the Shenzhen Cultural Center.

In recent years, the East Coast (shoreline) of Shenzhen has attracted more and more tourists, including backpackers. One of the most famous beaches is Xichong in the south of Dapeng Peninsula.

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