14 May 2009

A Tale of Three Cities – Part 1 三城故事-上卷



Shenzhen, Macau and Hong Kong are three sisters separated in childhood. Tucked away in the Pearl River Delta, they might have been mistaken for triplets if it weren’t for the vicissitudes of history that put them on such different paths. A century and a half ago, armed strangers came knocking on their door in the dead of night, waking the sleepers out of a national slumber. The mightiest among the intruders, bearing the Union Jack, snatched the oldest sister in the name of free trade, not long before a Latin conquistador ran off with the middle one. Their pillage and plunder would go on for several more decades before a new enemy brought on by a divine wind opened a chapter so dark history textbooks had to be revised.




Good or bad, Shenzhen was the only sister of the three spared from colonial rule. While Hong Kong thrived under British rule and Portuguese Macau carved a niche for itself as Asia’s Sin City, Shenzhen didn’t begin to come of age until 1980 when Deng Xiaoping handpicked her to be China’s first Special Economic Zone. A late bloomer notwithstanding, the southern belle flourished under the auspices of Deng’s Reforms and Openness (改革開放) initiatives and quickly became a poster girl for the country’s pragmatic socialism...


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Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.



11 comments:

  1. I can't wait for the second and third part. I guess the 2nd part will be Macau which is also a city dramatically transformed in the last 100 years, more so after the handover in 1999.

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  2. Thanks, Phil. Indeed Part 2 will be on Macau. Not sure if there will be Part 3 on the third sister since my entire column is already devoted to Hong Kong.

    Jason

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  3. Love how you start the article!

    Just curious, What's your view on Taiwan? Where would Taiwan fall in this 'family tree'?

    "[...]La china milenaria: si dividimos sus 1,200 anios por 14, nos da una seniora de ochenta y cinco, conservadora,[...]. tiene un nieto de ocho, Taiwan, que le hace la vida imposible."--Hernan Casciari

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  4. Interesting quote, Linda. I don't know of this Hernan Casciari. Is he a well-known writer or blogger?

    Anyway, there will be an article on Taiwan coming up. I'm spending a long weekend in Taipei in a few weeks.

    Jason

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  5. I like your use of metaphors. I often go to Shenzhen and realize that the city is becoming more and more similar to her role-model sister Hong Kong. Two thumbs up! =]

    JC

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  6. Hi Jason:

    I am a first time reader and I think your entry is well-worded, clean and precise. I like its in-your face attitude executed with much grace & elegance.

    Heres my afterthoughts:

    I came across the term "Chineseness" from cultural reading in college. However, scholars of culture used it in a more prideful way. I noticed how you use "Chineseness" in description to Shenzhen as a degrade; that part I was not so fond of.

    FYI- I still liked it.

    Loe

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  7. Thanks for your comments, Loe.

    As for the word "Chineseness," I didn't use it in the derogatory sense. And there is certainly nothing derogatory about being Chinese! By saying "suddenly self-conscious of her own Chineseness," I was trying to describe Shenzhen's reaction when it first reunited with the two colonized cities. It can be likened to a female executive walking into a board room full of men in dark suits, making the newcomer "suddenly self-conscious of her gender."

    Jason

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  8. Hey, I'm going to Dafin to get some "collection" too..that's indeed an interesting part of SZ. Are you going to cover the antique furniture shops in Macau section?

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  9. Probably not -- because I have never been to those furniture shops (although friends have told me about them). I think there is a lot of other things about Macau to talk about...

    Jason

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  10. Interesting spin. You always deliver, Jason.

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  11. Thanks. Let me know what you think of Part 2 on Macau.

    Jason

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