Xiamen poser: Are special economic zones in China no longer special?

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When my friends in Xiamen heard that I was going there to do an interview in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the Xiamen special economic zone (SEZ), they immediately deadpanned: “Compared with Shenzhen, we look like a fake SEZ.”

Out of curiosity, I asked what they meant. They said that in Xiamen, there are few special dividends to be gained, no policy advantages, and the economy lacks strong industries.