I was flitting about the internet and discovered that as of May 19, 2020 the portal for the Qianhai Cooperation Zone had moved [from Shenzhen] to the management platform of the Guangdong Provincial Government, which means that the administrative unification of the Greater Bay Area proceeds and that much of what happens in Qianhai will now have to be approved in Guangzhou. The political ordering is clear on the Chinese site. The official name on the platform is: 广东自由贸易试验区深圳前海蛇口片区前海深港现代服务业合作区, which translates as: Guangdong Free Trade Pilot Zone Shenzhen Qianhai Shekou Zone, Qianhai Shen Kong Modern Service Cooperation Zone. The order of the place names tells us that Guangdong Province is the ultimate authority over Qianhai, and that Qianhai and Shekou are both under Shenzhen. Hong Kong only appears in abbreviated form as part of the cooperation zone in the second part of the name.
What might this mean for Shenzhen and Hong Kong? Thoughts du jour:
A recent article from the Epoch Times asserts that Shenzhen has surpassed Hong Kong in competitiveness because of the way Beijing has intervened in the economies of the two cities. Indeed, the establishment of the Qianhai Free Trade Zone speaks to the continued transfer of international economic functions from Hong Kong to Shenzhen through the deployment of “special” policies. This is, in fact, a solution to the one country-two systems policy that–for years–many foreign commentators ignored, when it was thought would Shenzhen become more like Hong Kong? Well, it has. And inquiring minds want to know: cui bono?
From the Epoch Times article: For the first time in a decade, Hong Kong no longer tops the list of competitive cities in China, and its due to the stifling hand of the Chinese regime, commentators note.
According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ recently released Blue Book on Urban Competitiveness—a survey of 294 China cities, Taiwan included—Hong Kong now ranks number two, falling behind its neighbor just across the border in mainland China, the metropolis Shenzhen.
The survey report claims Shenzhen topped Hong Kong, a bustling international financial hub and former British colony, because the mainland city better backed innovation—in 2014, Shenzhen government spent 4.05 percent of its gross domestic production supporting its innovation and technology sector compared to Hong Kong’s 0.73 percent.
The report also said Hong Kong’s standing was affected by last year’s student-led Occupy protests. From the end of September to mid December, hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers held three areas of the city to protest a restrictive Beijing diktat on political reform in Hong Kong (more).
…and yes “we” is you white man. I began this morning grappling with the problem of statistical representation and sustainable imaginaries in the Pearl River Delta, which has roughly the same GDP as Switzerland spread over an area that is only 1.3 times greater than Switzerland. So yes, I live in an important region of the global economy. But here’s the rub: the PRD has a population that is almost 8 times that of Switzerland. This means that sustainable development in the PRD entails grappling with issues at a scale much greater and with fewer resources per person than in Switzerland. Continue reading
I’m curious about how the play “World Factory” works. One review said the show can turn a liberal hipster into a capitalist tyrant in one evening–and I think it was a compliment?! The point, of course, is one that I frequently hear; it you were a leader you’d probably make those decisions, too.
Interview | Zoe Svendsen | World Factory | Young Vic — LondonCalling.com.
Talking about migrant workers in China (and throughout the world’s booming mega-cities) usually means “rural to urban migration”. However, this is not the case in Shenzhen, where “urban to urban
immigration” has been as fundamental to the city’s success and growth. Indeed, the diversity of Shenzhen’s migrant population complicates easy understanding of what it means to be a Shenzhener, let alone academic debates about urban belonging and ideologies of exclusion. Continue reading
When I first saw the above advertisement for DJI, one of the world’s leading producers of drones, I balked. It seemed to me to be a picture that celebrated spying on the private and unaccessible mansions of the all-too-rich. So, given the unreliability of my American gut reactions in China, I asked the young women standing next to me, “What do you see in that advertisement?” She responded, “a pretty landscape.” I was like, “What about the dock? The big mansion? The coastline that resembles Newport’s?” She looked at the advert again, nodded, and then tentatively added, “We see things differently because of cultural difference.” Continue reading
In order to grasp the moralities and consequences of social non-existence, and incidentally to demonstrate that non-existence partially registered in American understandings of its Cold War conundrums, especially our self-envisioned role in Asia, one could do worse than a close reading of Horton Hears a Who, which was published in 1954, roughly a decade after Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel had transitioned from drawing editorial cartoons to writing politically charged children’s books. Continue reading
The current stock market frenzy has people dreaming about more than free lunches. The following adverts are from Money Daddy (钱爸爸), an online trading / investment platform based in Shenzhen. Of note? In addition to the pyramid scheme promises of rapid wealth, the site address plays with both “rich daddy, poor daddy” ideology and Cantonese numerology, where the number 8 is a homophone for the character for father and can also represents the character for “get rich”.
Translations of Money Daddy advertisements show “ideal” middle class Shenzheners enjoying their high returns. The underlying
anxiety point is actually quite simple: if you’re earning an honest living in any of these jobs (including an ordinary bureaucrat), you’re not earning enough for carefree spending. And carefree spending is, of course, the site where the self is being constructed as “macho”, “successful”, “loving”, “sexy”, and “independent”, respectively. Continue reading
Today we held the design workshop for the Dalang graffiti festival. 27 people attended the workshop, which involved creating designs for manhole covers. With the exception of one individual, none of the participants admitted to having taken any art classes outside of school; none admitted to sending their children to art classes. All were immigrants and during their self introductions, they mentioned their hometowns; one made a joke that her hometown was “too small to have English names”. Next week, participants will take their designs and begin painting manhole covers at a workers’ dormitory, a neighborhood, and a school.
and I’m listening to music by 张广天, whose music simultaneously evokes revolutionary times and postmodern desires. Zhang Guangtian is considered one of the first figures of Shanghai’s 1980s rock and independent music scene. In 1990, he moved to Beijing, where he has collaborated with both theater practitioners and film makers, most notably with the National Experimental Theatre’s Meng Jinghui. In 2000, Zhang Guangtian burst into national consciousness with Che Guevera (切·格瓦拉), which he wrote and directed. However, today it is the vexed lyrics of Mao Zedong that have me feeling bittersweet about the Chinese Revolution and the aftermath of Reform. The song was written for the 110th Anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth–how resplendent he was, Zhang Guangtian nostalgically sings–and although the lyrics allude to the need for revolution the images firmly tie Mao to the Party’s purposes. And the idolization. Simultaneously compelling and disturbing, I find it difficult to turn away from the Great Helmsman (below).