The grand engineer of reform and opening-up, Deng Xiaoping had a special tie with Shenzhen. Ever since his visit to the city during his famous Southern Tour across the special economic zones in 1992, he has been revered as the city’s greatest benefactor. And from museums to public squares to shopping malls, Deng’s presence is still strong. On his birthday today, there’s probably no better place than Shenzhen to brush up memories of both the great man and his history.
In the Lotus Park (莲花山公园) right behind the city government and citizen center, a six-meter tall bronze statue of a strident Deng can be found on the hill top, as if Deng himself is still overseeing the city. Always a hotspot for tourists, you almost have to snap a photo with Deng to say you have actually been to Shenzhen.
This 10-meter wide, 30-meter tall iconic image is at the square at the cross section of Shennan Boulevard and Hongling Road. The original was an oil painting to promote reform and opening up, commissioned by the city government in 1992 with a different quote from Deng: “Not insisting socialism, carrying out reform and opening-up, not developing the economy and not improving the people’ s livelihoods can only be a dead-end road.” The version we have today is a computer-generated image created in 2004 with local landmarks at its background, including Shenzhen International Trade Centre, Citizen Centre, Xinxing Square and etc.
Deng’s Speech Hall
Mr. Deng’s Speech Hall (邓公厅) is in the revolving restaurant in Shenzhen International Trade Centre, Luohu district. In January 20, 1992, Deng made his famous Southern Tour speech here, and the restaurant has since received many head of the state over the years, including former US presidents Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush, and former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. Today you can enjoy authentic Cantonese cuisine in the restaurant while admiring views of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The 163-meter-tall trade center was completed in 1985. Its construction coined the term “Shenzhen Speed”—it only took three days to finish an entire floor.
A photo of Deng is on promotional display in the revolving restaurant
It was the highest building in China for a decade, after completion in 1985
In 1984, during Deng’s first tour to Shenzhen, he visited Shekou Industrial District and stayed overnight on a retired cruise ship turned hotel restaurant complex. The ship, originally named “Anceevilla” was brought from the French in the 1970s. Deng obviously enjoyed his stay and wrote the name of the place in calligraphy as a parting gift. Today neon sign of these characters are installed on the ship, which has become a high-end leisure and shopping district, famous for its light show.
The retired cruise ship turned high-end leisure complex (Sea World)
From a wax statue of Deng in front of a Hong Qi limo, a replica of the hotel room he stayed and vehicle he was on, to a detailed exhibition of his work and speeches on reform and opening-up, the Shenzhen Museum has everything you need to know about Deng Xiaoping and Shenzhen.
“Shenzhen’s development and experience proves that the policy decision to establish Special Economic Zones was correct”: Deng Xiaoping, January 26, 1984
Exhibition of Deng’s two tours to Shenzhen in 1984 and 1992
Office goods and furniture Deng used during his visit in Shenzhen
The Toyota mini-van that transported Deng around the city in his 1992 tour
Photography by Liu Jue (刘珏)