New Shenzhen Special Economic Area February 12, 2059
It is the Spring Festival, that time of year that even we ethnic Chinese have taken to calling “Chinese New Year”. Somewhere up above us, a new moon hangs invisible in the night sky – though even if it were full, it would not be seen by us down on the streets. When we look up, we see only the glaring lights of the factories, shrouded if we are lucky by low clouds disgorging sulphurous rain.
Above the stinking acrid smog that shrouds this city stand the towering corporate spires and arcologies of the giants who built this place, and ruined it. Samsung. Foxconn. Google. Baidu. Together they conspired to cram as many menial labourers as they could into the dormitories of Old Shenzhen, working them in droves in the factories that provided gadgets to the world. Then international pressures forced them to pay their workers more, look after them better. America looked on in approval, but the workers of Shenzhen knew what was coming.
The Chinese government was petitioned for a new Special Economic Area, one where the work would be fully automated. The privileged few would tend the robotic production lines, while the country kids who were lured here with the promise of work starve and fight in the streets.
Below the clouds, the glaring factory floodlights blaze while our own power flickers and browns out. The crack of the corporate police’s machineguns cuts through the night, battling block by block to wrest control from the gangs that dispense local justice. Hackers take out corporate databases and basic utilities without discrimination. The sirens never stop.
This is the new China; the new world. A world where our heroes are computer-generated to appease us, while our villains rule us all from castles in the sky.