Category Archives: Places

Shenzhen, Heyuan to build special zone

Land-scarce Shenzhen just cannot get enough of cooperation with its neighbors. With tech giants such as Huawei expanding into Dongguan, and TV maker Skyworth going into Huizhou, the city is looking to the next “outer ring” of the Greater Bay to take a step further in its expansion.


According to local media, Heyuan is the place, and the “Shenzhen-Heyuan Special Cooperation Zone” is under planning.

It’s a win-win for all parties, apparently. The establishment of the new zone will not only boost Heyuan’s economic development, but also strengthen Shenzhen’s “radiative leading role” and expand the industrial capacity of the Shenzhen-Dongguan-Huizhou “economic circle”. 

Transport infrastructure is key to this happening. With the recent opening the high-speed railway between Huizhou and Heyuan, travel time between Shenzhen and Heyuan has been cut to two hours – and once the extension to Shenzhen has been completed, it will be reduced to an hour. 

Read more (in Chinese).

Shenzhen No. 2 for innovation

Shenzhen is ranked only behind Beijing for the strength of its innovation-led business environment, according to an authoritative report released in Beijing.

According to the 2019 China Innovation City Evaluation Report, conducted by the state-run China Urban Development Research Institute, innovation is generally on the rise across the country. Its evaluation methodology scores the cities surveyed at an average of 67.12%, which is 3.87 percentage points higher than the previous year. 

Shenzhen scored 80.41%, up 2.58 percentage points from the previous year. The city stood out for several advantages, such as ratio of R&D spend to sales, proportion of new product sales in overall sales, number of new patents per 10,000 employees of industrial enterprises, number of PCT patent applications per billion Renminbi of GDP, and number of United States-based patent holdings per billion Renminbi of GDP, among others.

Guangzhou ranked eighth with a score of 61.35%, up 1.66 percentage points from the previous year, which boosted its ranking by four places. Its advantages were noted in human resources and quality development, especially the proportion of the population with tertiary degrees or above, labor productivity, capital productivity and other indicators.

The research institute worked together with a wide grouping of other elite state institutions to compile the report. These included various units from the Central Party School’s administration division, National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Science and Technology, as well as universities and research institutes across the country. 

The report made special mention of progress being made in the Greater Bay Area, calling it the “gateway for China’s southern region to open to the outside world”.

Shenzhen sees sharp slowdown in Q3

Something is going on in Shenzhen. The city has not yet released any reports on its economic performance in the first three quarters, yet provincial data show that the city’s GDP growth dropped sharply in Q3.

Private commentators have been reporting the provincial data today, many with alarmist analysis. This is rightly so: the 6.6% growth number recorded by Shenzhen for the first three quarters of this year follows 7.4% reported for the first six months. If accurate, that is an unprecedented quarterly slowdown.

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Top 10 Must-go Spots in Foshan

Foshan is a large city, with a registered population of more than 4 million, which is increasingly being integrated with Guangzhou. Even though it is highly urbanized, it is a lively, clean place, famous as the hometown of ceramic art, Cantonese opera, and martial arts. (Read our overview.) In March next year, the Guangfo Intercity Railway will open, bringing all of the major towns into close proximity to the Guangzhou South station, where the High-Speed Railway comes in from Hong Kong and Shenzhen. In the meantime, Foshan West Station (in the Chancheng District) is a good jumping-off place to start a visit. This is a place that is worth exploring if you are into temples, gardens, and the ancestral homes of Bruce Lee and Wong Fei-hung. There is also a collection of five major theme parks here in the Shunde district.

Following are our Top 10 recommendations.

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Hong Kong gets reform agenda rolling

American scholar Andrew Nathan has an interesting piece in Foreign Affairs summarizing what “insiders” say is Beijing’s approach to the crisis in Hong Kong. Though the presentation of this analysis fits too neatly into a US-centric worldview, it helps explain why the Hong Kong government is moving quickly to address the city’s dire shortage of housing: Because the central government believes the protests are being driven primarily by intolerable socio-economic conditions. Fix those, and the rest will take care of itself.

The logic has appeal. While Nathan’s sources are almost certainly wrong to suggest that the country’s senior leadership isn’t worried about addressing the political dimension of the protests, it makes sense to train attention and resources on fixing first what can be fixed easiest. Any capable government would be taking this approach.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Beijing misunderstands where the protesters’ rage is coming from. The country’s leadership probably knows all too well that the crisis is not going to be fixed with bread alone. But it also likely understands that without a commitment to deep socio-economic reform, no other grievances can be addressed in a sustainable way. Fixing the land issue is about much more than bringing down the cost of living. It’s about changing the way people live.

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Exploring Dongguan – Top 10 Spots

Dongguan is noted for its manufacturing prowess, not its scenery. However, that is misleading. The city has been given a “National Excellence in Tourism” award, largely as a result of its historical relics and charming natural attractions. There is much to see and do here, and it’s a big place, so you need to plan your outings carefully. Here! (the magazine) is a good resource for events and listings of restaurants and bars. Following are our recommendations for the Top 10 must-go spots in Dongguan.
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Songshan Lake to get complex

Songshan Lake, the high-tech zone in Dongguan, is going upscale. Already the home of the Huawei R&D headquarters known as Ox Horn, which has a collection of European-style buildings and its own mini-railway, the district has been in need of a major commercial complex. It is getting one around the Songshan Lake North railway station, courtesy of China Resources Group, which makes its first foray into Dongguan with a large, mixed use project, Wan Xiang Hui. 

The project broke ground yesterday, Dongguan Daily reports. It is expected to be finished in three years, boasting offices, shops, hotels and apartments, covering an area of 44,100 sqm, with a total construction area of about 350,000 sqm. It consists of a podium with five floors above and one below ground, plus two towers at 240 meters and 130 meters high, respectively.

The station is a major future transport hub, with the Guangzhou-Huizhou Intercity Railway passing through, as well as Dongguan’s metro Lines 3 and 5, all of which are still under construction. 

Residents will likely especially appreciate the Wan Xiang Hui Square, which will feature a wide variety of modern dining and entertainment options. Songshan Lake is a beautiful area, but it does get a bit dull at night.

Nansha: From sand to fintech

Of all the places in the Greater Bay Area, Nansha probably has the grandest ambitions. Once little more than a site of large deposits of alluvial sand, at the mouth of the Pearl River, today Nansha is being spoken of as the one true “core” of the Greater Bay’s development plan. Finance, technology, scientific research, and shipping are all being clustered here with a view to building a New Area that can propel the next stage of the region’s – and the country’s – growth.

To say it has come a long way from humble beginnings would be an understatement. Nansha only became a district of the provincial capital, Guangzhou, in 2005, when it was separated from the larger Panyu District. Back then, it was known for not much more than being the source of the sand that laid the foundations – literally – of Hong Kong’s real-estate boom in the post-war period. But already, its potential was being measured due to its location on the southernmost tip of Guangzhou. The country was embarking on a wave of experimentation after joining the WTO a few years before, and it was designating national-level New Areas around the country to launch experiments in economic reform. Nansha was the sixth of these, tapped for future stardom in 2012. (read our explainer of what a New Area is.) 

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Exploring Guangzhou – Top 10 Spots

The provincial capital of Guangzhou is a megalopolis that combines old and new in fascinating ways. No matter if you are a history buff, or simply looking for place to spend a leisurely weekend, there are many fun and interesting options available. Here is a list of our top 10 must-go places. Please note that this is a big city, so planning your trip to each of these spots requires attention to transport details. is our favorite, and they have affordable chauffeured tour options. You can do day-trips, now that high-speed train links make it easier, but we wouldn’t suggest it: better to take your time with hotel bookings and stay at least one night – or more.

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