As part of Deng Xiaoping’s 'reform and opening up' policies, China named Shenzhen a special economic zone in 1980. Over the next 40 years, Shenzhen transformed from a rural backwater with a population

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Shenzhen residents told to take time off to improve the city
Taking a day off in China can often be tricky. Peer pressure from colleagues and bosses often means workers stretch themselves to the breaking point, spending long hours in overtime or dragging themselves to work when they don’t feel well.  Shenzhen, the southern megacity in China, is trying to change the work culture by forcing companies to respect their employees’ mandated days off. The guidelines are part of a larger plan to improve Shenzhen’s living standards by fighting air pollution, improving food safety, and ensuring mental and physical health. The new ordinance will come into effect at the start of 2021. Under the section titled “healthy profession,” the rules stipulate that employ
The cities that are growing and shrinking in China
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Index features one important number about China to give you insight into the rising power. -18%: The average change in enrollment for elementary school children in Chinese cities that have become less popular over the past five years.  Chinese economics reporters, using elementary school enrollment figures to gauge demographic shifts in the country, have found a migration away from the country’s rust belt. The logic is if a city is attractive it would retain its current population and attract more families to relocate, thus, the primary student enrollment would increase. While there was no real trend of where people were moving to, there was a consistency
China takes one more step toward digital national currency
People in China spent $1.3 million in over 62,000 transactions during a week-long trial of the country’s most extensive test of its sovereign digital currency. The currency, managed by the Chinese central bank, could potentially facilitate transactions and promote the international use of the Chinese yuan. It will also give officials more power to track the flow of money in the world’s second-largest economy. The southern tech hub of Shenzhen, where the test took place, said 47,573 people selected by lottery received a $30 cash gift, known as a red packet, in the digital currency. A total of 1.9 million residents applied to take part in the $1.49 million giveaway. People spent the money at 3
Greta Thunberg declares support for ‘Hong Kong 12’
Greta Thunberg, the high-profile global environmental activist, has waded into sensitive Chinese politics by demanding the release of 12 Hong Kong fugitives detained in mainland China after being arrested at sea while fleeing to Taiwan.  The Swedish environmentalist shared on Twitter a picture of her holding a whiteboard bearing the message “#SAVE12HKYOUTHS” in response to a direct appeal to back the cause from Joshua Wong Chi-fung, the poster boy of Hong Kong’s protest movement. She also wrote, “12 is more than just a number” and called on three other environmental activists to join her in the cause. The arrest of 12 Hong Kong activists in August has made international headlines and turned
Xi Jinping wants this city to lead China out of trouble
Chinese President Xi Jinping has charged the southern metropolis Shenzhen with taking China’s innovation and economic reforms to a higher level at a time when the world had entered a time of “turmoil and changes.” In a wide-ranging speech to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, Xi also called on the municipality to better integrate the two economies of Hong Kong and Macau into the Greater Bay Area and to attract young people from Hong Kong to study and live on the mainland. In the 50-minute-long speech, Xi laid out a wide range of economic and political missions for Shenzhen, which has been a front runner of China’s reform experiment for 40 ye
The most competitive cities: China vs rest of the world
By ranking fourth in the world, the megacity of Shenzhen was the highest-ranking Chinese metropolis in a new study that ranked how important a city is to the global economy.  China generally performed well in the rankings, but the list was dominated by the US.  New York City topped the chart for the third consecutive year. London took the second spot, followed by Singapore and Shenzhen. San Jose, California took fifth and Tokyo was sixth.  The report, which was produced by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the United Nations Human Settlements Program, measured a city’s economic influence based on its “connectivity.” Connectivity was defined by both “hard” and “soft” networks.  The
One of China’s most expensive cities is focusing on public housing
As weekly protests have continued to rock Hong Kong, the city’s authorities have pinned down one thing more than any other as the economic cause of the unrest: unaffordable housing. Across the border from the semi-autonomous city, the southern tech hub of Shenzhen in mainland China is trying to avoid its neighbor’s woes. Hong Kong has the world's most unaffordable property prices. Shenzhen is eschewing Hong Kong's housing model in favor of a system that focuses on affordable public housing. As part of its latest housing reform, the municipal government this week published a rule setting a benchmark land price across the city and stipulating that land sold for subsidized housing should be pri
Can Beijing afford to lose Hong Kong?
As Beijing has whipped up the vitriol against Hong Kong’s anti-government protesters and exerted pressure on companies to act against “offenders,” it has also instituted a plan to elevate neighboring Shenzhen into a model city that it hopes will lead the nation into its next level of development. Beijing’s conflicting narratives for the two cities that share a border may fuel speculation that if Hong Kong does not soon toe the line, it runs the risk of being replaced by Shenzhen as the financial heart of the Greater Bay Area. But in reality, it would be a tall order for Shenzhen to pull even as a financial center, let alone overtake Hong Kong. Unlike Shenzhen, an emerging global technology h
Online protest highlights woes of evicted children in Shenzhen
Chinese internet users have joined an online protest to support children who were forced to move out of one of Shenzhen’s biggest migrant neighorboods. Following calls from a performance artist called Nut Brother, WeChat users are sharing pictures of evicted migrant children, in order to pressure the government into finding new schools for them.  In China’s megacity of Shenzhen, home to some of the country’s biggest tech firms, so-called urban villages have housed successive waves of migrant workers and their families for decades. In a pattern repeated across much of the country, such neighborhoods, which provide cheap housing and services, are being gradually demolished to make way for mode
In Shenzhen, apartments near a collapsed building are in high demand
A collapsed building should be disastrous for home prices, right? Not if you're at the tech hub of Shenzhen. Homeowners at a residential estate in the Chinese megacity where a building collapsed this week raised their prices by nearly 20% within 24 hours of the incident. They bet buyers would be willing to pay a premium in the hope that the entire estate would be razed and redeveloped. A block of flats at the Heping Xinqu residential estate in the bustling Luohu district sank into the ground on August 28. No casualties were reported. The 29-year-old residential area has more than 100 homes. A broker said that a homeowner, who had put his apartment on the market for 3.1 million yuan ($433,300