The birth and development of a modern socialist city: Shenzhen, China

Mee Kam Ng*, Wing Shing Tang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


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 experiment. 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 assembly 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-economic 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-162
Number of pages12
JournalGeographia Polonica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • Urban Studies
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • globalizing socialist city
  • socialist economy
  • central-local relationships
  • urban develop-ment and planning
  • Shenzhen
  • China


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