Knowledge, Information, and Perception Across the Hong Kong-China Border
1: Views Across the Shenzhen River: Portraying Hong Kong in Shenzhen's Special Economic Zone
Thursday, March 24, 2022
12:30pm – 2:00pm EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
Denise Y. Ho
Yale University, United States
Situated on the Sino-British border, Bao’an County—from 1980 the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone—was both a gateway to China and a window on the world. Since the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949, Bao’an County propaganda officials had to manage perceptions of Hong Kong. In the face of travelers and products which continued to cross the border, the newspaper Bao’an Peasant News depicted Hong Kong as the worst of capitalist societies. In the era of reform, a proliferation of new media grappled with a new issue: how to cover the aspects of Hong Kong worthy of emulation while remaining critical of individualism and materialism. Using local newspapers like Shekou News, literary magazines like Special Zone Literature, and pamphlets like handbooks for migrant workers, this paper explores how the tension between admiration and criticism was navigated. However, events such as the 1988 “Shekou Storm” and Shenzhen’s 1989 demonstrate that this balance was difficult to strike. While materials from such politically sensitive events are difficult to find, this research uses Shenzhen University’s propaganda education from 1990 to suggest that, just as Bao’an County was susceptible to a “Hong Kong Wind,” reform-era Shenzhen also took inspiration from Hong Kong.