China’s Cities: Understanding Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen

China’s Cities: Understanding Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen

Huxiu, 2019

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Mass migrations of Chinese rural people to cities have altered industries and wealth in China’s metropolitan areas. This article by writer Qing He from the social science blog Zhi Ben She discusses the changing landscapes of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen and how their economies might fare going forward. Beijing was noticeably left off the list, likely because the writer wanted to focus on business centers. Beijing, being the capital of China, is a city heavily influenced by politics. 


In little more than a decade, mainland Chinese attitudes toward Hong Kong have changed from admiration to condescension. 

Opinions about the city of Hong Kong vary widely in mainland China. Before 1997, mainlanders admired what Hong Kong had to offer were heavily influenced by Hong Kong’s cultural exports to China – such as TV dramas, pop music, martial arts novels and fashion. 

After 1997, the year the British handed Hong Kong back to China, attitudes toward Hong Kong began to shift. China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 accelerated the nation’s already fast-growing economy. Mainlanders were getting rich. The city of Shenzhen, located right next to Hong Kong, was growing in importance. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s economy was slowing down. When China began allowing mainlanders to visit Hong Kong as individuals, tourists flooded into Hong Kong for shopping sprees at designer-label stores. Conflicts intensified between mainland visitors and Hong Kong residents – the latter viewing China’s nouveau-riche as uncouth and arrogant. Chinese media heightened tensions by playing to mainlanders’ emotions with words of nationalism.

About the Author

Qing He is the founder and editor in chief of the social science blog Zhi Ben She