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Special economic zones

(Reform and Opening Up)

Updated:2018-10-29 |

Special economic zones

The special economic zones were the first locations in China to open to the outside world. Their dynamic economic exchanges with the rest of the world make them the best regions of China’s reform and opening up. Special economic zones were initiated by Deng Xiaoping, and established in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This was a far-reaching decision by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council to promote reform, opening up and socialist modernization.

In April 1979 the central leadership took up Deng Xiaoping’s suggestion and decided to designate certain areas in Guangdong and Fujian provinces as “special export zones” that would open first by exploiting their geographical locations near Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and their close ties with overseas Chinese. In May 1980 the name “special export zones” was changed to “special economic zones,” and in August the Standing Committee of the Fifth NPC decided to build special economic zones in Guangdong’s Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou, and Fujian’s Xiamen. In April 1988 Hainan Special Economic Zone was established, and in May 2010 Xinjiang’s Khorgas and Kashi were added to the list.

Special economic zones practice special economic policies and management systems to develop an export-oriented economy. They are major channels for China to boost its own economy by utilizing overseas capital, technology, personnel and management expertise, and are windows on and models of China’s reform and opening up.