Deng Xiao Ping, the 1980s post-Mao era Chinese premier was a liberal reformist who developed a vision for special economic zones. These entrepreneurial districts such as Shenzhen in South China, which transformed from a fishing village to a booming city of over 12 million inhabitants, sowed the seeds for the economic explosion that China has carefully steered over the last 30 years. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-reforms-chronology-sb/timeline-china-milestones-since-1978-idUKTRE4B711V20081208
At the time and for many years during the initial boom, the rural population in China was artificially high at over 60% versus the country’s level of economic development. Government policy dictated that citizens must remain in the district where they were born, where services and jobs were allocated to them. In fact the population and local gene pools had been so stable over centuries that pharmaceutical companies would collaborate with the government to conduct research in virtually controlled conditions. The only exceptions to this were elite students, the most glittering talents in the country, who were granted a “metal bowl” upon graduation, a metaphor for a rice bowl which never breaks and a job for life. These students were allowed to remain in the cities where they had graduated, to drive China’s growth.