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Nation looks back and forward, 30 years after landmark reform
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The bronze statue of Deng Xiaoping atop Lotus Hill in downtown Shenzhen is bathed in sunshine. A stream of people climb to the peak to present it with bouquets or pose for a photo.

"My parents feel they owe a lot to Deng. If not for him, they couldn't have traveled anywhere beyond the confines of their small county," said Zhou Xiaoqi, a 28-year-old engineer.

In fact, his parents traveled from their home in the central Hubei Province to spend the winter with Zhou, who secured a job at a high tech firm in Shenzhen four years ago.

As Zhou and his parents paid tribute to the statue, a meeting was being held in Beijing to mark the 30th anniversary of China's reform and opening.

Exactly 30 years ago, the Communist Party of China decided to open-up the once secluded country and reform its moribund economy. Deng Xiaoping, who masterminded the decision, has since been called the "chief architect" of that drive.

"Reform and opening-up are the fundamental causes of all the achievements and progress we have made," Chinese President Hu Jintao told an audience of more than 6,000 at Thursday's gathering.

Born in the early 1980s, Zhou Xiaoqi knows little of the seclusion and supply shortages his parents still talk about. However, he said, "I do remember meat was a luxury when I was a kid. We used to save the best stuff for our guests or for new year's day."

Today, like many office workers his age, Zhou enjoys dining out with friends and singing at karaoke bars in the boom city near Hong Kong.

Shenzhen, one of the four special economic zones Deng Xiaoping decided to set up in 1979 to drive forward reforms, has since been transformed from an obscure fishing village to a gleaming metropolis. It is now seen as a window to China's economic reforms.

"Unlike other big cities, nearly everyone is a migrant here. Everyone speaks Mandarin and people don't distinguish 'us' from 'them'", said Guo Minggang, a photographer at a bridal shop in downtown Shenzhen.

Guo, 30, moved to Shenzhen in 2005 from his home province in northeast China to seek personal development. "I think one of the biggest achievements of the reforms is we are all free to choose where we live or what we do for a living."

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