New Communist Party chief Xi Jinping began his two-day inspection trip to Shenzhen yesterday with low-key visits to the Qianhai experimental zone and information technology giant Tencent.
Political commentators and economists said they hoped Xi's trip could generate concrete measures to rejuvenate the stagnant regional economy.
After arriving in Shenzhen at noon, Xi visited the Qianhai experimental zone, Tencent and Kuang-Chi Institute of Advanced Technology. Today, he is expected to visit Lotus Hill, which features a bronze statue of late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping , and the former fishing village of Yunong, now a wealthy symbol of the success of Deng's open door policy.
Shenzhen propaganda officials said Xi had ordered a low-profile reception and there would be no red carpets, no extravagant banquets, no massive security precautions and no overly burdensome traffic controls during his visit.
"Xi has ordered the serving of simple and unadorned food with no more than six dishes and one soup, and a buffet meal for accompanying officials," a propaganda official said. Police only blocked main roads briefly as Xi's small motorcade passed by.
Xi's low-profile visit is in sharp contrast to that of President Hu Jintao's in 2010 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of China's economic reform. Roads were blocked for that trip and reporters had to undergo background checks and were only allowed to carry a pencil, paper and their identity cards to the venue for the commemoration ceremony.
A woman in her 60s from Yunong village said her family was one of five chosen to prepare for Xi's visit today. "I bought many local fresh fruits and expensive tea to treat the top leader," she said. "Our family is one of the first households to have an annual income of 10,000 yuan [HK$12,300] after Shenzhen launched the economic reform in 1980. Of course we want to meet Xi, but I have been told that only two out of the five families will be able to meet him."
Veteran China-watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said Xi was showing his support for the private sector by visiting two private enterprises in Shenzhen.
"For a long time [under Hu's leadership], the state advanced while the private sector retreated in China's economy, although the country's successful economic reform was largely attributed to its formerly booming private companies," Lau said. "Private companies dominate Guangdong's economy, and it's important for Xi to carry forward Deng's policy."