AS THE British and Chinese teams in the Joint Liaison Group discuss the future use of the land used by the British military forces in Hongkong, it is timely to ask, what should Hongkong people look for from these negotiations? The Foundation believes we should be looking for more living space. The military lands are an immense unappreciated asset in our midst that could be used to solve our housing problem. The inadequate land supply could be solved with the use of the military lands. These are so large that even if most of the space were used for much-needed housing, office and recreation areas, there would still be plenty to meet the military needs of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) after 1997. The military lands comprise about 5,900 hectares or more than five per cent of the territory. This represents 118 years of land supply at the rate set down in the Joint Declaration - an indication of the immense potential of this space for Hongkong. The two largest areas are the 2,190 hectares of the Castle Peak firing range and the 2,900 hectares at the border. However, there are also large areas in urban Kowloon and on Hongkong Island. The needs of the people of Hongkong should be given priority in discussions on the disposition of these lands. The Foundation accepts the jurisdiction of the Government of China over defence matters relating to the future Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Hongkong, including the right to station PLA troops here. We also accept that defence is a specialised and confidential matter, and that accordingly defence needs cannot always be publicly discussed. However, the Foundation believes that there are certain factors arising from Hongkong's unique circumstances which set limits to the ''defence'' aspect of the debate. These factors are: The Hongkong SAR will not be a country, or even a province, with its own defence needs. It will be merely a municipality within a very large country. The needs of the PLA in the SAR after 1997 cannot be compared with the historical requirements of the British forces in Hongkong. The British forces were expected to maintain a presence in a colonial outpost thousands of kilometres from the mother country. After 1997 Hongkong will lie securely in the embrace of the mother country. Much of Hongkong is densely populated urban area. Most of the remainder is mountainous. Hongkong's territory is not suitable for the large-scale deployment of troops, especially when large, open spaces are available just across the border; and Hongkong's overwhelming social and economic need is for more land. In view of the above factors, the Foundation believes that the future use of the lands now occupied by the British forces is only partly a defence matter. To the extent that it is not a defence matter, it is proper in accordance with the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law for Hongkong people to express their views and needs as to the use of their land. The Foundation believes the following principles should guide the discussion over the military lands: The PLA should not need as much land for military purposes in the SAR after 1997 as the British forces have required. This means that much of the existing military land would be unneeded and free for other uses. It would be helpful for the Chinese Government to specify its land needs as precisely as possible, so that they can be matched against the existing sites; The PLA troops should be stationed in areas removed as far as possible from the urban areas; Lands not required for military purposes should be returned to the Hongkong Government as soon as possible without charge, subject to existing agreements for compensation over buildings; Over the past 20 years the British forces have regularly given back land not required for military purposes to the Hongkong Government. Such important developments as the Kowloon Park, Hongkong Park, the Bank of China Building and Pacific Place are on such returned land. This precedent should be followed; Land in urban areas should be used in the first place for public rental or Home Ownership Scheme housing, recreational facilities, and infrastructure. Commercial and private housing use should be a second priority. Land in rural or mountainous areas should be converted into country parks; and Land allocated for public housing or recreation should be granted by the Government without charge. Land for commercial use or for private housing should be auctioned, with half the proceeds being paid into the SAR Land Fund. On the basis of these principles, the Foundation recommends for consideration the following disposition of the military lands: Stonecutters Island and Sek Kong Camp, totalling 325 hectares, should be sufficient for the barracks and other facilities required by the PLA, the Navy and Air Force. If more space is required, we would propose Sek Kong Village, a further 70 hectares, bringing the total to 395 hectares. Such an area could house one million Hongkong people. It must surely be sufficient for the PLA's purposes. The Castle Peak firing range should not be needed after 1997, given that far superior ranges exist across the border. We therefore recommend that most of the land be converted into a country park, with consideration being given to building private housing along part of the coast, with a main road around the entire peninsular. The border area should remain dedicated to its present use for the time being. The Osborne Barracks and the other three sites within urban Kowloon, totalling 39 hectares, should be converted into residential and recreational space. This would greatly relieve pressure on the most densely populated part of the territory. Stanley Fort and the five remaining sites in the New Territories, totalling 280 hectares, should be converted into recreational space and housing, with consideration being given to the creation of an industrial park.