From Time Asia:
If Shenzhen can leap from assembling basic products with low-wage, poorly skilled labor to nurturing the innovations of lavishly paid talent, it could blaze a trail for the rest of corporate China, which must increasingly develop its own brands, designs and technology to rival those of America, Japan and Europe. It would not be the first time Shenzhen has led the way. The city, located in southern China’s Pearl River Delta, has been at the forefront of China’s free-market reforms for 25 years. In 1979, late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping designated Shenzhen as one of the county’s first special economic zones (SEZs), offering privileged terms to foreign companies wanting to invest there.
That experiment was a remarkable success. Eager to tap Shenzhen’s low costs?especially for labor?foreign companies rushed into the SEZ, led by factory owners from nearby Hong Kong. The result was a decades-long boom, with Shenzhen’s economy expanding at an average rate of 28% a year from 1980 to 2004, according to Hong Kong-based consulting firm Enright, Scott & Associates. [Full text]