What Is Shenzhen SEZ, China?

Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ), China, is a leading business, innovation and financial center in China. Shenzhen’s fast-growing economy is characterized by three industries: shipping and logistics, high technology and financial services. Shenzhen is a world leader in shipping and supply chain and has the world's third busiest container port.

Understanding Shenzhen SEZ, China

The Shenzhen SEZ is recognizable by its massive industrial parks, such as Huawei Tech City where generous R&D investment has created a global innovation center. To service the growing needs of the shipping and high-tech industries, and as a principal access point for foreign investment into mainland China from Hong Kong, Shenzhen has grown into one of the leading financial centers in China. 

The Growth of the Shenzhen SEZ

Once a small, ancient village with a population of 30,000, the modern city of Shenzhen has evolved into a state-of-the-art tech and financial global epicenter. In 1980, the then-Communist Party leader Deng Xiaoping designated the southern town as one of four SEZs. SEZs receive special tax benefits and preferential treatment for foreign investment. Shenzhen grew exponentially and its GDP per capita grew 24,569% from 1978 to 2014. Shenzhen's GDP surpassed U.S.$338 billion in 2017 because of its successful tech sector, and this growth exceeded that of Hong Kong and Singapore.

Since then, the city has grown and now has over 12 million residents. Mandarin is the official language of the zone, but Cantonese and English are widely spoken. Strategically located in Guangdong province, in the Pearl River region, and adjacent to Macau and Hong Kong, Shenzhen is a principal doorway into mainland China. Shenzhen, once considered a sweatshop mecca, is now the hi-tech home of leading Chinese tech firms such as the internet giant Tencent, telco Huawei, and the drone maker DJI. Shenzhen is also home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and is one of the busiest financial centers in the world.

China's Dominance in the Technology Race

China is leading the tech innovation race by investing heavily in tech R&D. The South China Morning Post reported that over 4.13% of Shenzhen’s GDP was spent on R&D in 2017, and that number is expected to reach 4.25% by 2020. The zone had over 3 million registered businesses in 2017, which is the equivalent of one company for every four people. Shenzhen's economic productivity has increased by 200% in just six years.

In April 2017, President Xi Jinping of China announced that a small agricultural area called Xiongan would be the next SEZ and is expected to become another technology and innovation hub replete tech startups, learning institutions and the latest transportation.