After a good few days in Hong Kong, visiting friends and reminiscing about my life there in the 1980s, I planned to cross the border by land and visit Shenzhen, the city just inside the China border. It was little more than a fishing village until August 1980, when Deng Xiaoping designated it to become a Special Economic Zone, with privileges in foreign trade and investment.
In the 1980s, it was still called Shumchun, the Cantonese pronunciation of its name. I didn’t visit it as early as Leroy W. Demery Jr., the photographer who took this “old Shenzhen” shot in July 1980. But I did visit it twice in the 1980s, as construction began. Still, I never imagined that this town of 20,000 would become a modern metropolis of more than 12 million—nearly twice the size of Hong Kong. It has its own stock exchange and hosts the headquarters of tech giant Tencent, 5G telecom company Huawei, and drone-maker DJI. Paul attended a conference there in 2017, when he took these modern pictures.
Paul and I planned to travel with Steve Mozinski, a friend from Portland who visited us in Hong Kong and China in the 1980s and has not been back since. It would have been fun to see his reaction to more than thirty years of modernization. Maybe next year!