Friday, November 19, 2010

Shenzhen is quite nice actually

Walked to Guangzhou railway station (which looks like it could be in Japan) to catch a fast, sleek train to Shenzhen. This is effectively where old-style China became new-style China when in 1979 Den Xiaoping named the city - actually, little more than a village then - a Special Economic Zone, the first of its kind. Since then Shenzhen has boomed, attracting 30bn dollars of foreign investment and millions of migrant workers. The population is now around 10m. It's home to numerous hi-tech brands, including the infamous Foxconn mega-factory which produces Apple products.

I was expecting Grim & Grey, but actually the bits I saw were green, prosperous and quite nice actually. It's the ultimate planned city with broad, tree-lined boulevards stretching this way and that and creative industry parks around every corner. I had a meeting in Shenzhen University and rarely have I seen a more pleasant campus. It has 30,000 students. They're building a second bigger one up the road. I popped into OCT art district, a bit like Beijing's 798, complete with the most uncorporate Starbucks I've ever seen (see photo). And I finished off at Shenzhen Museum to discuss a V&A exhibition that will be shown there in 2012. Gecko performing here tonight but I'm already at the airport waiting for the last flight back to Beijing.

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