More from 乌有之乡, this time an essay on “Why is creating SEZs a logical fraud? (为什么说搞“经济特区”是一个“逻辑骗局”?)” And yes, these thoughts have been expressed before, but they really do bear repeating. And then, it’s worth applying the analysis to other, non-Chinese spheres where legal exceptionalism remains the primary form of creating competitive advantage. As the anonymous author argues, governments have made it their business to help multinationals squeeze even more out of workers.
Why is Creating SEZs a Logical Fraud?
Key point: The original purpose and core intention of creating “Special Economic Zones (SEZs)” was to explore possible paths for reforming and opening China. However, the problem appeared with the character “special (特)”. If what is being created is a “special” zone, logically speaking it isn’t relevant to ordinary life. In other words, the paths that are suitable for a “special” zone are “special paths”, and not the ordinary path of reforming and opening China.
[translation note: 法律特权 literally translates as legal privilege, however, it functions analogously to the American English concept of legal exceptions — the rules don’t apply to me — and where appropriate that is how I have translated it. In most places, however, I’ve tried to stick to “privilege”.] Continue reading
The new Qianhai Bay Shenzhen Hong Kong Modern Service Cooperative Zone (前海深港现代服务业合作区), which has been billed as “the Special Zone’s Special Zone (特区的特区)” illustrates the principal that in Shenzhen, the character “special (特)” is often most usefully translated as “privileged”.
As yet, the Shen Kong Zone does not exist; it will be created through reclaiming coastal land along the Pearl River Delta. However, it has been planned, approved, and contracts signed. Not unexpectedly, as the City revs up for a prosperous Year of the Rabbit, Qianhai has become a media focus.
What’s special about the new zone? One, it will be administered under Hong Kong law by a joint committee of Shenzhen and Hong Kong representatives and is thus, the latest incarnation of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy. Two, in order to build the New Zone, the Eastern Coast of the Pearl River will be narrowed and the actual river bed deepened in order to serve even larger and more ships. Three, like Guangming and Pingshan New Districts, Qianhai is one of the few areas in the city with Government mandated competitive advantage.
Clearly, Shenzhen and Hong Kong are cooperating in order to create one of the largest and most comprehensive service ports in the world. The media is gushing about all the money that this project will bring to the two cities specifically and the Delta more generally. However, as development rights have already been allocated, the money that will be earned there has already been divvied up and so what we’re left with is a promise that trickle down economics might kick in at some point.