- Beijing Piles Pressure on Hong Kong Developers, Calling on Government to Seize Land Being ‘Hoarded for Profit’
by Joyce Ng, https://www.scmp.com/
* Three commentaries published by state media single out unaffordable housing as a ‘root cause’ behind young people taking to the streets in anti-government protests
* Chief Executive Carrie Lam has previously been reluctant to invoke law in past pointing to potential legal ramifications of such a move
Beijing is piling pressure on Hong Kong’s property tycoons to help ease the city’s crippling political crisis and social unrest, with state media urging the local government to boost housing by seizing land being hoarded by developers with “vested interests”.
Commentaries published on Friday by the official Xinhua news agency and People’s Daily, as well as an editorial in the hardline tabloid Global Times, singled out unaffordable housing as a “root cause” behind young people taking to the streets in anti-government protests that have rocked the city for months.
State media have played a significant role recently in bringing about changes in Hong Kong to handle the crisis more proactively: Cathay Pacific began cracking down on employees taking part in illegal protests and reshuffled its top management after the city’s flagship carrier came under severe criticism for its hands-off approach; and the MTR Corporation started closing metro stations and asking police to take action after the rail operator was accused of allowing protesters to use its network to their advantage.
This time state media specifically endorsed a proposal by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the city’s largest pro-Beijing party, for Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to invoke the Lands Resumption Ordinance and take back large swathes of rural land lying unused as a quick option to tackle the shortage of land for housing.
The three news organisations also called on Hong Kong’s embattled government to be more proactive, as they hit out at developers. The Xinhua commentary identified the inability of young people and low-income groups to afford homes and share the city’s economic success as an underlying cause of the social unrest.