news briefs

shenzhen gears up for the high school entrance exam (中考). the competition is fierce. according department of education statistics, 50,699 students will test for only 34,017 places in 709 homerooms. of this, there are only 24,358 places in public schools. this means that less than half of shenzhen’s middle school graduates can go to public school in the city. the rest will go to private high schools and vocational schools. many will leave the city to go to school in neidi hometowns.

while reading up on the middle school exam, i discovered that shenzhen had redistricted. the seventh district, guangming new district consists of guangming (光明) and gongming (公明) streets (街道), formerly of baoan district. the redistricting resembles the establishment of yantian district in 1998, when the government intended to use the new administrative district to stimulate the local economy, but didn’t actually advertise the action. or maybe they did, and i just didn’t notice. sigh. at any rate, today, i will ask around to see how many people know about the new district or if i was the only one who hadn’t noticed.

the major difference between the two new districts is location: yantian has been built up and around the largest section of the port of shenzhen, while guangming is still relatively underdeveloped. during the recent storms, guangming new district’s 325,000 people suffered economic losses of 286 million rmb, story and pictures here.

also: american cities grew through annexing the surrounding area. shenzhen’s sister city, houston is an interesting case in point. however, shenzhen’s administrative growth has been a result of internal density. at certain thresholds the city redistricts, creating more levels of administration to handle the social complexity that comes with a kind of population implosion. i’m not yet sure how to think this.

p.s. in an admittedly unscientific survey of 15 people, only 3 could name all seven districts. of the three, two were involved in academic administration, i.e. they regularly attend citywide meetings, and one was a real estate developer. of the 12 who didn’t know, responses ranged from laughter to “you know even more than we chinese…” not really. the point is that the city re-organized itself and we didn’t notice. so maybe its not the case, as many claim, that shenzhen doesn’t have history, but rather that no one notices that we’re making history as we go along. thus, whatever remains at the end of a decade, or given commemorative timeframe (return of hong kong; 30th anniversary) is “history”. and if nothing remains, which given the level of razing and reconstruction currently under way is highly possible, there’ll be no history, just a perpetual present that figures an unreachable future…

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