In contrast with Friday, Saturday was a GO day. We got up early, as we would for class, and headed straight to the border for our class day in Shenzhen. The line was thankfully short, and soon we were touring the sparkling new information center of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone – a big name for an even bigger project. In the US, the idea of building an entire, environmentally friendly, cosmopolitan, international financial hub from scratch is completely absurd, but the folks we met at Qinhai seemed entirely undaunted. They had it all planned out, from a multi-leveled underground transportation system to a low-energy city-wide cooling plan. The idea, it seemed, was that Qinhai would ultimately become what downtown Hong Kong is – a global financial services entrepot – except newer, greener, bigger, and, importantly, part of mainland China. To American ears, it all sounded a little suspicious – doesn’t it take a whole myriad of people and businesses to make a thriving urban center? Sure, a single government can build all the infrastructure, but how do they get convince all the necessary parties to move in and start using it? The utopian scale models and VR experiences in the visitor center all seemed a little too good to be true, but construction has begun in earnest, and who am I to say what can and can’t be done? I’ll be interested to visit in a number of years, and see if the Elysian vision of Qinhai has come to fruition.

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