Reclamation and protectionism can both be used to solve Hong Kong’s housing shortage
I refer to Timothy Cooper’s letter (“Hong Kong’s housing crisis has a quick solution: reclamation for the East Lantau Metropolis”, June 19) and Michael Chugani’s column (“How Hong Kong’s housing crisis can be solved by thinking like Donald Trump”, June 13).
Cooper suggests fast-tracking land reclamation, while Chugani advises prohibiting foreign ownership of local housing. I have a question: why not both?
Obviously, reclamation is the right track for providing a large supply of land. Cooper says that, through sophisticated techniques, Hong Kong can build 1,400 hectares of new land in just four years, or 2,000 hectares in about five-and-a-half years.
Although reclamation may sacrifice some marine-life habitat, it is the only way to provide such a large scale of land for Hong Kong residents.
Watch: Why land in Hong Kong is so expensive
However, Cooper slammed Chugani for protectionism for recommending curbs on foreigners purchasing property. I can’t see any problem with such restrictions.
In 2017, 18 Chinese municipal governments rolled out property cooling measures, including purchase restrictions. At the 19th National Congress, President Xi Jinping reminded us that “homes were meant to be inhabited, not for speculation”.
Despite some economists saying that such interventions would destroy Hong Kong’s reputation as the world’s “freest economy”, the title has earned us nothing.
As former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said, there is no absolute boundary between capitalism and socialism, as capitalism has planned economy elements, and socialism also has market economy elements.
In Hong Kong’s case, it is acceptable for the government to roll out more cooling measures, even though it may remove the brand of “freest economy”. The capitalist would say this will drive away foreign capital from Hong Kong, and the economy will deteriorate. However, if all Hongkongers could have a comfortable home, I don’t mind devaluing my wealth by 50 per cent.
Patrick Mak, To Kwa Wan