Urban redevelopment in late colonial Hong Kong : a socio-political analysis.
The importance of land to the economy of Hong Kong lies in the fact that land sales
are a major source of revenue to the colonial state. A continuous supply of land for
private property development is essential for the survival of the colony's capitalist
economy. If, for whatever reason, the supply of land is blocked, the developers, the
state and the economy of Hong Kong as a whole will suffer.
The failure of the market to release land in the old urban areas for redevelopment has
forced the Hong Kong State to step in. The attempts, however, have been largely
unsuccessful due mainly to the difficulties in land acquisition and the strong resistance
from the affected residents. In 1987 the state established the Land Development
Corporation [LDC] to intervene in the urban redevelopment process.
The author argues that the LDC is basically a socio-political strategy serving the
function of political legitimation for state intervention. The LDC can be regarded as
a piece of state apparatus for providing the necessary means of intervention in the
urban redevelopment process in order to ensure the release of land to private
developers for profit making redevelopment projects (capital accumulation). At the
same time it serves as a buffer to distance the state from being in direct conflict with
the affected communities in the urban redevelopment process.
However, if the conflict is a structural one inherent in the capitalist logic of
development, the conflict will eventually be directed back to the state. The LDC will
simply add one more layer to the administrative procedure in the redevelopment
By conducting empirical studies on four of the LDC's redevelopment schemes during
the period 1988-1992, with particular focus on the interactions between the affected
communities and the LDC/the state, the author examines the role of the LDC so as to
demystify the social reality of urban redevelopment in Hong Kong.