Neoliberalism in Hong Kong

Mariette Robin | Maite Rodríguez | Martina Antonietti | Liu Kai | Lan Haoyue

Today’s Hong Kong city once again became part of China in 1997, becoming one of the “Special Administrative Regions” beginning a period of profound change and modernity. However, it is evident that neoliberalism in Hong Kong began in the 80s but sped up after the 1997 financial crisis. The businesses forced the government to move into the market to recover losses in margins of private capital. Currently, under the “one country two systems” scheme, Hong Kong is one of the most important business centres in the world, with a population of over 7 million in a territory of only 1100 km2. The consequence of this is the emergence of the neoliberal phenomenon known as the “economy of agglomeration”, which takes into account the advantages that companies and the population enjoy because they are so close: proximity of customers and suppliers, skilled labour and financial services. In spite of being one of the most saturated urban enclaves in the world, the city still maintains 60% of the undeveloped land, to some extent oblivious to the global economic crisis. The urban boom of China’s neoliberal policies has led to the middle class of the city being replaced by Chinese millionaires who buy homes without mortgages or bank transactions. This, together with the lack of protectionist policies for local citizens, have turned this city into the real estate investment center of the area. The first range of limits of the neoliberalism thesis talks about this. When a phenomenon which has large amounts of power is not defined precisely, can it ever be called out as wrong? The privatization of public housing assets has forced grassroots organizations to rethink the role of the state in protecting the public against the rich in Hong Kong. Yet approximately 50 per cent of residents do not own a home and more than 30 per cent of new ones are in the hands of mainland citizen. Among the measures the new government put in place to curb the rise in housing prices and the displacement of the native population was to provide more building land. This measure did not achieve its objective and prices have continued to rise so for the first time protectionist measures have been put in place to favour its citizens under the slogan “Hong Kong land for the people of Hong Kong”.


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