China City Profile: Hong Kong
Research Question: What are the struggles with land distribution in an age of modernisation?
-Possible solutions to this problem?
-How the distribution of land are affection the people in the community?
-What is the current situation on the amount of land running out in relation to the growing population?
Background and overview
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated place on Earth. In 2014 a study found that there were 6,690 per square kilometre in Hong Kong, but specific densely populated areas in Hong Kong such as Kwun Tong has 57,250 people per square kilometre (citation). With the effect of modernisation and a rapidly growing population, the distribution of land in Hong Kong is becoming a problem as it has a major impact on the density of the population making the land in Hong Kong becoming more and more scarce.
Due to the effect of there being less land in Hong Kong, living conditions for the poorer members of Hong Kong society suffer greatly from this. People who cannot afford apartments or houses are forced to live in cages in rooms 2 by 2 meters big. With land becoming more and more expensive due to a scarce amount of it Hong Kong, the poor are forced to endure such inhuman conditions.
A study conducted by the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department in 2007 found that approximately 53,200 people living in cage homes. The rate was even higher around the 1998s and has decreased since, however the issue still remains at a large.
For my investigation I interviewed members of the Hong Kong Planning Department. I emailed their general inquiry and complaints email. The results were quite brief as I planned my questions poorly, so I plan to do a follow up email and hopefully get to get in contact with the people behind the Planning Department.
What do you think about the current situation in regards to land distribution in Hong Kong?
We think that the problems with land distribution is quite substantial and has a major effect on the lives of thousands in Hong Kong. We are very aware of the problems with land distribution and there is already a lot of talk about it.
(They did not respond to my questions regarding possible plans/ solutions for the issue)
What do you think about Caged homes?
We are very aware of the situation with caged homes and there have already been plans put into place to help them as there was an effort to replace caged homes with more public housing estates.
I sent out a survey to people in the year to see what they though about caged homes.
80% of the people that responded to the survey were aware of such a problem in Hong Kong. To the people who were aware of the problem, 75% thought that it was not properly addressed by the government. To follow up, I asked some questions about potential solutions to such a problem and what they thought the problem was.
What do you think is the root of the problem?
-I think that generally, its the influx of mainland Chinese people moving into Hong Kong. Generally Hong Kong is the source for a huge number of opportunities.
-I think the government isn't doing much about this problem, or at least there hasn't been any clear evidence of any of their attempts working.
-No one is really doing anything about it because the government doesn't seem to focus on the poorer members of society.
Do you think there are any solutions to this problem?
-I think maybe more support between the government and the people who live in cage homes or are in similar situations.
-The abolishing of cage homes as a whole and cheap, liveable, human solutions to be setup by the government.
Through the data I collected in my survey, 80% of people are aware of the situation of caged homes and 75% of the people who are aware did not think it was properly addressed by the government. With the follow up questions, I found that generally, the problem lied with an influx of people moving into Hong Kong, and not a practical system to 1. Help the people already leaving in caged homes and 2. accommodate for all the people moving into Hong Kong. Suggestions for this problem was government support to set up a more efficient system of moving people in caged homes out and into affordable, liveable lots.
Explanation and analysis:
Caged homes is among many others as the result for the poor distribution of land in Hong Kong. The rising population is just too much for the 1,104 km^2 pearl of the west. The growing lack of land and demand for land is forcing the poorer side of the population to suffer, as prices go up for land, more people struggle to afford liveable housing and are forced into harsh conditions such as caged homes. It is arguable that the use of land is quite phenomenal in Hong Kong since for its tiny size lives over 7 million people, and its compact city life balances with an also natural side as well. However this doesn't represent the geography of people.
Looking into the future:
In the future I'm hoping that there will be a big effort to try and deal with the ever decreasing land in Hong Kong (a solution not involving the destroying of natural environments). I hope to contact the planning department again to follow up on the questions I asked and see if I can find out any plans to treat to this problem in the future.
Works Cited"Hong Kong Cage Homes." Atlas Obscura. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2015. <http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/hong-kong-cage-homes>."Hong Kong." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 07 May 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong>."Land Utilization in Hong Kong." Land Utilization in Hong Kong. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2015. <http://www.pland.gov.hk/pland_en/info_serv/statistic/landu.html>.