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Shenzhen Continues to lead China's reform and opening-up
With the entry of China into the World Trade Organization (WTO), Shenzhen City plans to go above and beyond the Chinese government's commitments for opening up, to become an example of success in the new market economy, according to Mayor Yu Youjun.

Shenzhen City, in south China's Guangdong Province, is one of the country's five special economic zones (SEZ) benefiting from preferential policies.

Yu said they have been working hard to take the lead in opening up to overseas investors in fields ranging from banking, securities, insurance, logistics, commerce and intermediate service to tourism.

"Amid fiercer international competition, Shenzhen will continue to take bold steps in carrying out in-depth reforms and making new breakthroughs," said the mayor. "The most urgent task at present is to adapt the government administrative methods to the WTO requirements through reform, and to form a standardized and improved socialist market economic mechanism."

According to Yu, Shenzhen removed 277 items requiring approval from the city government in a bid to improve the efficiency of government work last year.

Economic specialists say China used to introduce many preferential policies in its SEZs, but these policies will be popularized in other areas of the country in the wake of the expanded opening-up in China, especially after WTO entry .

"SEZs are still encouraged to take bold steps in economic experiments and to offer practical experience for other Chinese regions," said the specialists.

Su Dongbin, head of the Shenzhen Institute of Taiwan and Hong Kong Economies, said Shenzhen has grown into a region which enjoys the highest level of opening-up and market-oriented economy through two decades of development.

"China's entry into the WTO serves as a new accelerator for Shenzhen to further improve its market economic mechanism and to speed up the city's adaptation to the world," said Su.

The world has been impressed by China's successful operation of SEZs. Shenzhen, for instance, which was just a small town when it was chosen as China's first special economic zone to pilot the country's reform and opening-up drive 22 years ago, has now grown into a boomtown, which is placed fourth among Chinese cities in overall economic strength.

By the year of 2001, Shenzhen's gross domestic product (GDP) was 195.4 billion yuan (about US$23.5 billion) and the city's per capita GDP was 5,237 US dollars, which placed it as the first in the country in terms of per capita GDP.

In addition to creating a miracle of fast economic growth, Shenzhen has also made initial progress in experimenting with the establishment of a market economy and has led the country by introducing paid transfer of state-owned land use right, a securities market, as well as reforming the government approval system.

Establishment of a market economic mechanism in Shenzhen has created a fine market environment for overseas investors. By now, over 80 of the world's 500 top companies have settled down in this southern Chinese city. Shenzhen has also become one of China's key exporters and one of the country's most important ports of foreign trade.

To greet the challenges of economic globalization and knowledge economy, Shenzhen has kept adjusting economic structure over the past years and turned high-tech industries into the city's major powerhouse for economic growth.

In the past decade, Shenzhen has realized an annual growth of 50 percent in high-tech industries and by 2001, output value of the city's high-tech commodities amounted to 132.1 billion yuan (about US$15.92 billion), accounting for about 46 percent of the city's total industrial output value.

According to Shenzhen's new development goal, it will lead the country by realizing modernization and turning itself into a showcase of socialism with Chinese characteristics in five to ten years.

(Xinhua News Agency September 29, 2002)

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