Overview of Second Line Border of Shenzhen SEZ: From the Construction in 1980s to the Demolition in 2010s

Shenzhen’s Second Line Border, or Er Xian Guan (二线关), was a patrolled fence constructed from 1982 across the full breadth of the city from east to west. When it was finished in 1985, this fence with barbed wire had nine entry and exit checkpoints. It was delimited based on peaks and valleys of Shenzhen’s natural geography, from the tallest Wutong Mountain within the region in the west to the Tanglang Mountain to the east. It enclosed an area of 327.5 square kilometers together with the south Shenzhen HK border, the Pearl River Estuary to the west and the South China Sea coast to the east.

A history photo of Guangdong Border Guards laying the cables along Shenzhen Second Line. Source from: https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1952138

Second Line Border separated the city into two different administrative zones. The SEZ worked as an area of exceptionalism in economy and politics. After the construction of Second Line Border, people, vehicles and goods need special licenses for entering the SEZ. From 6 checkpoints Buji, Nantou, Shawan, Baimang, Yantianao and Beizaijiao at the start to 16 checkpoints along Second Line, millions of people passed Second Line to enter or exist SEZ, which cost lots of time at the procedure of licenses check. Especially after HK’s return in 1997, whether to abandon Second Line became a hot topic among both governments and the public.

Second Line and 16 land checkpoints. (Red dots are the main checkpoints) Access from Shenzhen Transportation Bureau http://jtys.sz.gov.cn/zwgk/ztzl/msss/rxg/xwzx/201512/t20151230_5377572.htm

In 1998, the demolition of Second line was proposed at the NPC annual session of Shenzhen City. In 2003, Li Youwei, the Secretary of Shenzhen criticized the existence of Second Line on the National Two Conferences. Two years later, Entry permit for the Second Line Border became relics. People passed through checkpoints with their ID cards only.

In 2010, the central government determined to enlarge Shenzhen SEZ to the whole city scope, which meant Second Line lost its function as a boundary of SEZ inside the city. Physically demolished in 2018, Second Line Border, functioning for 36 years, was repealed in the end.



  1. The History of Shenzhen Second Line深圳“二线关”兴废史. Southern Weekly南方周末.  Accessed from: http://news.southcn.com/nfzm/content/2018-12/08/content_184391636.htm
  2. Du Juan. The Shenzhen Experiment: The Story of China’s Instant City. Harvard University Press, 2020.
  3. To demolish or not? Shenzhen Second Line观点碰撞:深圳应否撤“二线关”. People’s Daily Online人民网. 2002. Accessed from: http://www.people.com.cn/GB/guandian/27/20020925/830437.html

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