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What would happen if Europe created a Special Economic Zones following the Chinese model? To anwer that question, we compare two regions that started their urban growth at the end of the 1970s: one, Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in China, the other, the manmade island of Flevoland in the Netherlands.

Over the years, both urban regions have developed in a completely different manner. The New Towns in Flevoland have a population of 400,000 for large part commuters working in the Randstad and looking for a suburban living environment. Shenzhen, for its part, has grown into ‘the factory of the world’ with more than 10 million migrant workers from all over China.

In the research Allmetropolis, Go West Project compares policy, economy, residential areas and future plans of the two regions. It then poses the question what would happen in Flevoland would implement China’s successful model for growth, meaning it would transform itself into a Special Economic Zone with preferential tax and other policies compared to the surrounding area.

This research project addresses consequences of current international developments where Europe is increasingly looking at China for financial help to solve the debt crisis. When Europe wants to attract Chinese investors, it’s not more than logical to have a close look at Chinese models for investment and growth.