Aisin Gioro Man-ka, a fourth-generation descendant of the Qing dynasty emperor Daoguang and the niece of the last emperor Puyi, complained about skyrocketing rents and real estate hegemony in Hong Kong, according to media reports.
The 69-year-old Manchu princess, a descendant of the Imperial Aisin Gioro clan, has lived in Hong Kong for twenty years and works as classical Chinese painter.
Eight years ago, she sold her flat in Quarry Bay for a price that has doubled several times since then.
She currently rents a 500-square-foot apartment in Kornhill for HK$13,000 a month, with the rent taking up a significant portion of her monthly income.
Man-ka complained about the housing situation in Hong Kong in an interview with local media. “Even if the government provides subsidies through the Home Ownership Scheme, we are still wary about purchasing those houses,” she said.
“Just look at the example of Kornhill Gardens – who can afford to buy an apartment there at the price of HK$7-8,000 per square foot?”
According to the Centa-City Leading Index (CCL), property prices in Hong Kong rose from 40 points in early 2004 to nearly 120 points currently, with 1997 as the base year (100 points).
Man-ka, who still owns a 900-square-foot flat in Beijing, criticised the soaring housing prices in Hong Kong as having a negative impact on people's quality of living.
“I can still afford the rent by drawing every day but when I can’t do it anymore, I’ll have to move back to Beijing.”
“Back in the old days, our imperial family was the most privileged class of the society,” Man-ka said. “Now, property developers have become the most privileged social group. They are the new emperors of our time.”
The phenomenon of real estate tycoons controlling multiple facets of Hong Kong’s economy have increasingly caused discontent among the public.
Among them, Li Ka-shing, the richest man in Hong Kong, owns four property and infrastructure groups including Cheung Kong, Hutchison Whampoa, Cheung Kong Infrastructure, and Power Assets.
Li’s businesses control span across almost every area of economy and people’s livelihood in Hong Kong.
Amid protests against Hong Kong’s property developers, an article titled “Li’s city” claimed to have been written by a primary student in Hong Kong recently became an instant hit on the internet.
“When I look at streets filled with chain stores owned by Li, such as Watson’s, ParknShop, and Wellcome,” the post began, “my heart is immensely touched. Every shop in Hong Kong, no matter what type, are all blessings brought to us by ‘Brother Shing’.”
“Hong Kong is literally ‘Li’s City’,” the article concludes. “Li Ka-shing is our God. The Li family possesses super powers and protects ordinary wage earners from the rain and storms.”
“They have done so much for us, particularly in making sure that we go to work on time, but never leave the office on time,” the post continued.