A mere 35 years ago, Shenzhen was little more than a fishing village clinging to the coast, peering enviously at wealthy Hong Kong across the water. But then in 1979, it was chosen to become the first of China’s special economic zones under Deng Xiaoping, the leader of China from 1978 until his retirement in 1992 — an area where foreign investment and entrepreneurship was encouraged.
Since then it has rapidly grown into a massive metropolis — one of the largest cities on the planet. There is even a phrase named Shenzhen Speed to describe how fast a city develops in China. In 2012, Economist ranked Shenzhen as the second world’s most economically competitive city.
Shenzhen is best-known for being home to giant manufacturers like Foxconn, but it also houses hundreds of smaller factories that create everything from individual gadget components to finished devices. While the city has been anonymously churning out electronics for decades, now it’s changing again, becoming notable as both a hub for hardware startups and some of the largest Chinese tech companies including Huawei, Tencent and ZTE that yearn to be bigger players on the world stage.
With the new establishment of China Pilot Free Trade Zone in Shenzhen in April, 2015, it is believed that Shenzhen will become a facilitator in the industrial reform and sustainable economic development of the south eastern China.