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China’s Shenzhen is using big data to become a smart ‘socialist model city’


Beijing tells southern technology centre to use ‘best modern governance practices that promote high quality and sustainable development’China will be the ‘world’s first modern powerhouse not built on the road of capitalism’, head of national economic planning agency says

北京要求南方技术中心采用“促进高质量和可持续发展的最佳现代治理实践”国家经济规划署(national economic planning agency)负责人表示,中国将成为“世界上第一个不走资本主义道路的现代化强国”中国会成为“世界上第一个没有建立在资本主义道路上的现代强国”吗?插图:刘健

Shenzhen is experimenting with a “party and technology” development model as it aims to become a “socialist model city”.


“We [China] will be the world’s first modern powerhouse not built on the road of capitalism, but by practising socialism with Chinese characteristics. The leadership of the Communist Party of China is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”


Xie Maosong, a professor at the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said it was Shenzhen’s pioneering role that had made such a pilot experiment important.


“Being a socialist pilot demonstration zone, the governance models that have proven successful in Shenzhen will be replicated in other Chinese cities,” he said.


“That is why watching Shenzhen’s public administration and other developments will give you a very good idea of what China’s governance model will look like in the next few years.”


“This is one of our most concrete answers to the leadership’s call to modernise our governance system and capability.”


Shenzhen established a Government Services and Data Management Bureau to handle big data collection and analysis in February, he said.


As well as data sets covering populations and the economy, the official said Shenzhen had also built “thematic databases” that could empower officials who handled social disputes and public grievances.


As part of the city’s plan, Shenzhen also launched its “Weaving Net Project” in 2013 under which it divided the city into thousands of data zones and designated an “information collector” to each zone.


The system also uses 2 million surveillance cameras dotted about the city.


Li Shihua, head of the video division of the city’s public security bureau, said at a forum in August that big data and video analysis were widely used.


“The biggest difference between Hong Kong and Shenzhen is the mindset,” he said. “We are constantly looking for more efficient and advanced ways to run and govern the city, while Hong Kong believes in its ‘small government, non-interventionist’ approach.”

他说:“香港和深圳之间最大的区别是思维方式。” “我们一直在寻找更高效,更先进的方式来运行和管理这座城市,而香港则相信其''小政府,不干预主义''的做法。”

Chen Dongping, president of the Shenzhen Institute of Smart City and Big Data, said Shenzhen could benefit from smart governance as it had a large population but only a small number of civil servants.


“In 1979, Shenzhen’s population was 310,000, but by September this year, our system has already recorded 22.89 million population data sets,” he said.


Hu Xiaoqing, deputy director of Shenzhen’s economic trade and information technology commission, said in an article by local newspaper Nanfang Daily in September that the government’s data platforms had accumulated more than 22.1 billion pieces of data about 20 million people, 3.6 million companies and 14 million properties.


Shenzhen’s e-government reforms had also helped the government to review its approval processes and streamlining of its organisational structure, Chen said.


“The process of simplifying government approvals was a trigger for the government to carry out the restructuring reform. By the same token, this is going to be the same path that we are taking in building a smart city.”