National Geographic : 1983 Jul
Gardens. Laborers were at work, their ham mers and chisels singing as they shaped the stone. The villas were for sale to foreign ers at $100,000 apiece. A lot of foreigners were expected. In Beijing 33 foreign oil companies were then bidding to develop China's offshore oil fields. In time perhaps some 20 billion dol lars would be sloshing around the South China Sea, and the most promising fields lay in the nearby Zhu (Pearl) River estuary. China Merchants and associates were just beginning to convert a small fishing harbor, Chiwan, into the principal forward supply base for explorations in that area. B EFORE I LEFT Shenzhen, I had din ner one night with Deputy Mayor Zhou Xi-wu, a thoughtful, soft spoken man. We talked about the future, the past. He recalled the years of the Cultur al Revolution. He had been taken before a large meeting and fiercely criticized as a sup pressor of the mass movement, accused of following the capitalist line. He had not worked during those years. It was after the downfall of the Gang of Four, which signaled the end of the Cul tural Revolution, that a more moderate leadership came to power in China, and Mr. Zhou found himself back in a position of responsibility. "In the past," Mr. Zhou said, "we used to stress that the development of our country should be through self-reliance. This is the correct policy, and we continue in this way. But some people misunderstood and had a lopsided idea. They believed if we carried out too many foreign activities, we could be controlled by foreign countries. "But we knew we should not lose any op portunity to grow and expand. So the cen tral government decided that we should experiment with foreign opportunities and exchange with foreign countries. New poli cies were adopted, among them the creation of the Special Economic Zones. "We know the socialist economic system is not perfect, yet we cannot introduce an all capitalist system. We shall persist in the socialist way. But we can introduce some advanced foreign economic experience, ei ther capitalist or socialist, into our system to reform it, change it, perfect it. "If the experiment of the Special Econom ic Zones succeeds, if the reforming of our system succeeds here, other parts of China can use the lessons. If they fail, other parts of China can avoid these experiments." We talked finally about China's stated intention of ultimately reabsorbing Taiwan and Hong Kong. "The Special Economic Zones will have much to do with a solution of these issues," Mr. Zhou said. "If the special zones are suc cessful, our compatriots in Hong Kong and Taiwan will see that under Chinese sover eignty businessmen can live well, invest, profit. And when sovereignty of Hong Kong and Taiwan is taken back, we will adopt special measures to administer them. Both can retain their present capitalist systems." COMPARED with Shenzhen, the other Special Economic Zones are tiny, almost embryonic. The Zhu hai zone adjoins Portuguese-administered Macau and contains 6.8 square kilometers. During my visit I saw only one factory oper ating. But the zone had just signed a com prehensive development contract with a Hong Kong company owned by three over seas Chinese families. And I was quickly to learn that the zone formed only a part of a much larger area opened to foreign investment. Again, there was a great vision. Zhuhai official Huang Wen-zhong un folded a plan of that larger area, spread it on the floor, anchored it with ashtrays. "We have," he said, "6,000 square kilometers of sea, 114 islands, 87 square kilometers of ara ble land, and Zhuhai city with a population of 150,000. We have many scenic spots and places for sports. We have good soil, abun dant minerals, and building materials. We To assure eternal restfor the mother, a Hong Kong family buries her in a Shenzhen cemetery run by Hong Kong entrepreneurs.Burialplots in land-starvedHong Kong are not only exorbitant but also risk relocationas the living crowd out the dead. This traditionallyorientedsite enjoys wind, water, and a mountain view.