The one-time fishing village of Shenzhen, singled out by late Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, was the first of the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in China. It was originally established in 1979 due to its proximity to Hong Kong, then a prosperous British colony. The SEZ was created to be an experimental ground of capitalism in "socialism with Chinese characteristics".
The location was chosen to attract industrial investments from Hong Kong since the two places are nearby each other and share the same culture. The concept proved to be a great success, propelling the further opening up of China and continuous economic reform. Shenzhen eventually became one of the largest cities in the Pearl River Delta region, which has become one of the economic powerhouses of China as well as the largest manufacturing base in the world.
Shenzhen, formerly known as 'Bao'an County ', was promoted to prefecture level, directly governed by Guangdong province, in November 1979. In May 1980, Shenzhen was formally nominated as a "special economic zone", the first one of its kind in China. It was given the right of provincial-level economic administration in November 1988.