Posts tagged SEZ
The landscaped lawns and flowering shrubs of Country Garden Holdings Co.’s huge property showroom in southern Malaysia end abruptly at a small wire fence. Beyond, a desert of dirt stretches into the distance, filled with cranes and piling towers that the Chinese developer is using to build a $100 billion city in the sea. While Chinese home buyers have sent prices soaring from Vancouver to Sydney, in this corner of Southeast Asia it’s China’s developers that are swamping the market, pushing prices lower with a glut of hundreds of thousands of new homes. They’re betting that the city of Johor Bahru, bordering Singapore, will eventually become the next Shenzhen. “These Chinese players build by the thousands at one go, and they scare the hell out of everybody,” said Siva Shanker, head of investments at Axis-REIT Managers Bhd. and a former president of the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents. “God only knows who is going to buy all these units, and when it’s completed, the bigger question is, who is going to stay in them?” The Chinese companies have come to Malaysia as growth in many of their home cities is slowing, forcing some of the world’s biggest builders to look abroad to keep erecting the giant residential complexes that sprouted across China during the boom years. They found a prime spot in this special economic zone, three times the size of Singapore, on the southern tip of the Asian mainland.
The next generations of zone, as they incubated in China’s Special Economic Zones or in Middle Eastern city-states essentially swallowed the whole of the city and rendered urbanism as service industry. China’s experiment with the market was so successful that it has generated its own global urban networks of zone trading centers. For Dubai, reawakened by oil for a new chapter in global trade, the zone is a fresh form of entrepôt not unlike those in ancient episodes. No longer in the shadow of the global city as financial center (New York, London, Tokyo, Sao Paulo) the zone has now quickly overtaken it, offering a wilder more hyperbolic form that mixes off-shore financial districts, logistics parks, manufacturing facilities, educational campuses or technology villages. The zone has become the world city and the glittering mimic of Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong. Ranging from spaces of a few hectares to conurbations that are hundreds of square kilometers, the scores of zone variants—each a newly minted cocktail of urban aspiration.