• 2006-12-20

    Times on Shenzhen


    New York Times is doing a series of articles about Shenzhen these days.Up till now,two has been published(on its web portal at least).

    Why shenzhen and why now?

    The first article is about Shenzhen's emerging(again I shall say,Awakening) middle class that has learned to push back too aggressive a Big-Brother obtrusion.Maybe this is no big deal in the west where it's commonplace to spot human right activists chanting away about the unfair,but in China,a country that has long been in lack of a free-speech history,it is among the rarest that only the rarest breed would be doing in the rarest areas.Shenzhen,the frontier anointed by Deng Xiaoping himself for the economic(and supposedly other related) reforms that China conducted in the late 1970s,is the most glaring of the rarity.Another reason for the massive emergence of Middle class push-backers in shenzhen is that it boasts the youngest talent pool in the whole China.Young people,assumedly,are more emotion-prone and well,politically,"naive" if you will.Shenzhen is a fairly new city,terribly young.Only about 25 years old.So does its workforce,mainly populated by people from early 20s to late 30s.Booming shenzhen mainly relies on the high-tech manufacturing sector,which presumably need legions and legions of modern-minded,well-educated and energetic workers ,who,it turns out,tend to be young.In a sense,Shenzhen is not unlike that Indian IT fortress: Banglore.

     The other article that came out so far painted well,even worse a picture.If the first article touched upon the "unsavory" unintended consequence of a booming city,the second installment points sharply to the shady and deplorable source that drives the shenzhen's very prsoperity.It reported on the awful working conditions in shenzhen,the unfair treatment of blue-collar workers, the resultant outflow of skilled workers to other areas of China(especially Shanghai),the terrible law-and-order conditions in inner city areas,and the deformed city development caused by an economy-above-everything approach which is widely deemed ''unbalanced' and 'going overboard".Shenzhen may be establishing itself well in terms of economic performance,but its blatant maladministration as to unfair work conditions and the unreasonable tolerance of outrageous worker treatments are winning it no positive points.Workers are fleeing,and with them the overseas investors who are looking to emploit cheap labor.Shenzhen are gaining short-term profits at the expense of its long-term goal,in other words.

      New york times has long been casting its sights on Emerging China.Sometimes out of security concerns,at other times out of human right concerns.This series of articles about shenzhen,a city I know all too well,are truly timely,as far as I can judge.Shenzhen has been looking to reverse the course it's currently riding on dangerously.Fast lane all right,but a lane to nowhere.

    Let's keep eyes peeled for the other installments to see what else Times has to say about Shenzhen,and China.