Shenzhen Spirit

Two months ago, Canyou Animation opened a new production center near the Wutong Wenti Park and future site of the Wutong Mountain Scenic Area Museum. Yesterday, Yang Qian and I joined good friend and Canyou executive, Liu Jingwen to tour the premises.

The Canyou story is inspiring. Canyou founder and CEO, Zheng Weining (郑卫宁) was born with a hereditary blood disease that has necessitated ongoing blood transfusions and left him handicapped. Now in his 60s, he has used his condition to make Shenzhen not only more accessible to handicapped people, but also to provide opportunities for living integrated lives. In 1997, he established 残友(Canyou), a foundation that both funds architectural and social projects to help the handicapped, but also provide economic opportunities to create economic independence. The result of that effort was the establishment of Canyou Animation (残友动漫), which specializes in advance 3D animation production, like that used in the movie, Avatar. The emphasis on economic independence and the means to achieve this independence distinguishes Zheng Weining´s vision and efforts. Notably, the organizational structure of Canyou Animation repurposes the Chinese work unit, combining residential and economic functions in one large unit. Zheng Weining is also the founder and CEO of the Zheng Weining Foundation, which works with domestic and international organizations to make China more accessible.

Yesterday´s trip to Wutong reminded me about early Shenzhen both because of the environment (small village in a beautiful mountain setting) and more importantly because of the spirit of reform that once distinguished the Special Zone, when the point of reform was not to flip flop from collectivism to capitalism, but to use aspects of capitalism to achieve socialist goals.

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