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A boy plays chess with a robotic arm powered by artificial intelligence at a Sam’s Club in Qianhai, Shenzhen, on January 7. While Hongkongers are showing great interest in heading north to shop in megastores, Shenzhen also offers some lessons in urban planning. Photo: Eugene Lee

Letters | What Hong Kong can learn from child-friendly Shenzhen

  • Readers discuss the Shenzhen government’s intiatives to improve the city, and the effect of an influx of tourists on ordinary people’s lives
Feel strongly about these letters, or any other aspects of the news? Share your views by emailing us your Letter to the Editor at [email protected] or filling in this Google form. Submissions should not exceed 400 words, and must include your full name and address, plus a phone number for verification.
During the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers went north of the border, including to Shenzhen, to eat, drink and play at relatively low cost.

Shop owners in Hong Kong could only complain about the comparatively small inflow of mainland visitors during that stretch and cast looks of envy at the north.

Shenzhen has always taken the long-term view on development. For example, back in 2015, the Shenzhen government was the first in the country to propose developing a child-friendly city systemically. It had a slogan, “Seeing the city from the height of 1 metre”, indicating that Shenzhen should be designed from the perspective of children.

In 2018, the Shenzhen government issued a child-friendly city development plan for 2018-2035. As of 2023, Shenzhen has built about 340 child-friendly facilities, 720 community childcare centres and 1,150 baby care rooms covering almost all public places in the city.

I have been to several big shopping centres in the different districts of Shenzhen, such as Nanshan, Baoan and Longgang. They all have nice places for children that are not only safe but also entertaining, creative and educational. Children can play there for the whole day and it saves parents the trouble of wondering where to go with the kids.

The Shenzhen government is known for its efficiency and responsiveness. Shenzhen is one of the youngest and most energetic cities in the country; the average age of residents is 32.5 years.

Credit should first and foremost be given to Deng Xiaoping, who boldly designated Shenzhen as a special economic zone where various economic initiatives could be tried out. Looking back, without Deng’s efforts, Shenzhen would not have accomplished as much as it has.

Many have been talking about the complimentary relationship between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. While this is true, I think there are things Hong Kong can learn from Shenzhen, which once was a straight-A student of Hong Kong.

Fion Yip, Guangzhou

Are Hongkongers disrupting Shenzhen residents’ lives?

I am writing to express my opinion on the trend of Hongkongers going to Shenzhen to shop on weekends. While this could be seen as a positive sign of integration of Hong Kong with the mainland, the sight of Hongkongers flocking to stores in Shenzhen also raises questions about whether they might be disturbing the daily life of Shenzen residents. I hope that the visitors are not a burden to locals, as people living in parts of Hong Kong that attracted crowds of mainland tourists experienced before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jasmine Cham, Kwai Chung