BIRTHDAY wishes and marriage proposals are often displayed on the huge outdoor electronic billboard of KingKey Financial Center, Shenzhen's second-highest skyscraper. This landmark building, completed in 2011 with a height of 441.88 meters, offers a spectacular view of the sprawling metropolis.
Today, Shenzhen's skyline is dotted with over 100 skyscrapers of more than 200 meters high, 10 of which are over 300 meters high. The city ranks among the world's top three cities for the most skyscrapers, according to Chinese website gaoloumi.com.
In less than four decades, Shenzhen has transformed into a forest of skyscrapers.
"The city was a town of fishing ponds and desolate lands when I was sent to work here in 1982," recalled Wang Yugang, a retired engineer of a State-owned construction company in his 70s who worked as a construction supervisor of the famed International Trade Center Building.
Two years after Shenzhen was announced as China's first special economic zone in 1982, urban planners began to hatch the idea of building China's tallest skyscraper. That same year, the construction of the 160-meter-high International Trade Center Building began.
The pace of its construction impressed the country as it was completed in only three years. "Shenzhen speed" became one of the well-known outcomes of China's reform and opening up.
Over the past few decades, each new tower has redefined the city skyline. The fast-evolving skyline in Shenzhen serves as a timeline of the city's history.
In 1996, the 383.5-meter-high Diwang Mansion was completed, which was at the time the tallest building in Asia. In 2011, the KingKey Financial Center was finished, and in 2015, the Ping An International Finance Center, with a height of about 600 meters, dominated the city's skyline.
Shenzhen has become a technology center and financial hub in recent years. With its favorable business environment, nearly 300 Fortune 500 companies have set up their China bases in Shenzhen.
"The idea of a 'rising skyline for growth' will continue to be highlighted in the city's future economic development," said Guo Wanda of the China Development Institute.