What if you had the opportunity to start planning a city in the 1970’s? How different might it look than nearly all the large cities around the world? I’ve been in Shenzhen for the past two days and have received a first hand look at how a city can be managed when it is planned for growth – and a huge population.
With 14 million people (or so it is said in some circles – I’ve found that most cities in China have many different population figures associated with them depending on the source), Shenzhen is soon to be host of the World University Games. This has resulted in seemingly perpetual construction taking place all over the city. I imagine that it is much like what was happening in Beijing proior to the 2008 Olympic Games.
I actually took the subway into China from Hong Kong. I did have to transfer 3 times and haul my bag up and down stairs a few times but I was surprised at how easy it was. The MTR subways in Hong Kong are new, clean, and of course efficient. I took the subway to the last stop in the New Territories and literally rolled into China with my bag. Customs was a breeze as was finding a taxi to take me to my hotel.
I am here in Shenzhen for the Low Carbon Business Development Forum and today spoke as a panelist in one of the sessions. There are some amazingly intelligent people participating and I admit I was a bit nervous talking about a subject (branding and marketing Chinese green technology products in the United States), that I have been getting educated on. I still have much to learn.
The Chinese continully impress me as a warm and inviting people. As my Vistage associate Gary Young wrote in his blog – ‘the Chinese people are extraordinarily honest and honorable – because as he says -they are not a nation of laws.’ I’ve seen nothing that makes me feel differently so far.
The conference in Shenzhen is in University Park – where three different universities share one giant and well equipped library. That makes a great deal of sense to me and is something rarely seen in the United States or anywhere else for that matter.
Roads are multi-laned and have been designed to accomodate the exploding growth of Shenzhen which was a mere sleelping fishing port town only 30 years. Designated a ‘Special Economic Zone’ Shenzhen is known by most people as the place where electronics like the iPad and other cool technologies are assembled and shipped from.
But I see Shenzhen as much more than that. An incubator of innovation and cradle for entrepreneurs, Shenzhen in being adjacent to Hong Kong (which is noted as the ‘Gateway to China’) is becoming the gateway to innovation and green technology.
I hope I get to see more of the city on this trip but if I don’t I’ve a feeling I am going to be back here before too long. And I look forward to that.
Happy Earth Day and Good Friday.