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Ava Lee ebook: The Dragon Head of Hong Kong – Part II

Ava Lee ebook: The Dragon Head of Hong Kong – Part II

From the desk of Ian Hamilton

It is difficult for westerners to really comprehend the rate of growth in a country like China, and a city like Shenzhen is so far removed from our experiece that it could exist on a different planet.

Thirty years ago, Shenzhen had a population of less than a hundred thousand people living in a collection of fishing villages and farms in an area that abutted Hong Kong’s New Territories. Then Premier Deng anointed it as the first Special Economic Zone and the villages and farms were swept aside in a mad rush to build. Today, it is estimated that about 14 million people live there.

That number of 14 million is staggering enough, but try to visualize the construction that had to happen so that many people could be housed, serviced and employed. How many building permits did that entail? Probably more in a week than Toronto would issue in a year. And they would have been instant, not encumbered by bureaucracy.

I mention the building permit issue facetiously because in Shenzhen there was no pretense about regulatory control. Want to throw up a factory? Pay the right person and get permission. Want to build it faster than the competition? Pay more people. The mayors in Chinese cities aren’t elected. They are appointed by the Party and have tremendous, almost unbridled power. There aren’t many of them who don’t quickly become multi-millionaires.

Ava knows none of this before she heads for Shenzhen. The word guanxi is not part of her vocabulary. It will be soon enough.

— Ian Hamilton