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It resembled a scene from a disaster movie.

As the 70-story skyscraper swayed above them, thousands of people ran screaming through the heart of the major Chinese city of Shenzhen.

Footage of the May 18 incident outside the 1,167-foot SEG Plaza quickly went viral and the U.S. Consulate in nearby Guangzhou advised Americans to stay away from the area.

The building’s board of directors said in a statement July 15 that an investigation had concluded the building was safe “and can continue to be used.” It added that investigators believed that removing the building’s mast could “solve the issue of perceptible vibrations in the building.”

The report came less than two weeks after China began to enforce new rules on the construction of skyscrapers, which banned new buildings above 1,640 feet. Proposals for buildings above 820 feet will also be “strictly limited,” and will require a specific reason for topping that height, they said.

Guidelines on the changes were issued by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission to architects, property developers and urban planners last year, allowing them to alter designs if necessary. Buildings already under construction would not be affected.

The commission saidthis was a result of mounting safety and quality concerns over some projects.

China is home to five of the world’s 10 tallest buildings which exceed the 1,640-foot mark, including the Shanghai Tower which stands at just over 2,000 feet, according to the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the world’s tallest with a height of 2,716 feet.

But Chinese policy toward the iconic indicators of economic fortitude has gradually shifted in recent years, according to Daniel Safarik, assistant director of research and thought leadership from the CTBUH.

“There’s probably no country that has really taken the building of skyscrapers as a symbol of its economic prominence more than China,” he told NBC News over the phone last week.

“It’s head and shoulders above anyone else by a good margin,” he added.

Economic reforms launched in 1978 by the ruling Chinese Communist Party under former leader Deng Xiaoping opened up the country to foreign investment, Safarik said.

Experts in many different fields were invited from the West to bring the nation “up to par,” because “China as a nation wanted to announce its arrival on the global economic scene,” he added.

Foreign architects arrived in droves, encouraged by a welcoming government and a new source of revenue, which was a good testing ground for groundbreaking ideas, he said.

“By the late 90s, things were really starting to snowball,” he said, adding, “You were starting to see buildings that were the rival of anything that you would see in North America.”

But the nation’s most recent move, he said, might signal a subtle shift in the country’s attitude toward its economy and development.

“China doesn’t want to be seen as just copying the West,” he said.

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