Hong Kong social land management

Henry C.K. Liu hliu at mindspring.com
Thu Dec 24 22:29:13 PST 1998

This post appeared at a time when I first joined the list. I did not respond then because the proposition was based on inaccuracies and misunderstanding of the Hong Kong situation. It was a nonstarter.

Hong Kong was a British colony from 1847 to 1997. Like all other British colonies, the Crown owned all the land some of which was leased to the private sector for commercial use, usually for 99 years, because under common law a 100 year lease is ownership. The current SAR (Special Administrative Region) government inherited that land regime in 1997. In the U.S., the Federal government still owns 80% of the nation's land, possibly traceable to its colonial heritage. Hong Kong's prosperity is not a result of its land policy. The main factor is geopolitics. Hong Kong is the "free market " window of a semi closed China to the capitalistic West. If anything, the land lease regime and land supply policy has done much to contribute to the bubble economy of Hong Kong that burst with the Asian crises of 1997. There is nothing about HK that "may provide a transitional form which *with class

struggle* could be used to slice up the capitalists, and move towards more effective socialisation of the market", whatever that means.

Henry C.K. Liu

Michael Hoover wrote:

> discovered below in stored file:
> >
> > By having essentially no landed capital in Hong Kong, what the government
> > gets is not a tax, it is actually the ground rent. Under either system it
> > could be said that such charges raise property prices and production costs.
> > I do not wish to prettify this, but to make a fundamental point about the
> > tactical and strategic possibilities of left-wingers isolating and
> > attacking landed capital, and eliminating it, *because Hong Kong shows it
> > can be done*. I accept it would therefore be more correct to say in line
> > with this analysis that the capitalist Hong Kong system is one in which
> > there is only one landed capitalist, the government. It is a state
> > capitalism in land.
> > Nevertheless this may provide a transitional form which *with class
> > struggle* could be used to slice up the capitalists, and move towards more
> > effective socialisation of the market.
> > Chris Burford
> >
> > At 07:57 AM 11/14/98 -0500, Michael Hoover wrote:
> > >because the gov't land policy is used to raise revenue, it is
> > >taxation in the form of higher property prices and rents...the
> I meant to place word taxation in quotation marks, although ground
> rent would be correct term...point is the deriving of surplus value,
> correct?
> allow me to play devil's advocate here for a moment: HK gov't land
> policy has kept direct taxes low and resulted in large budget
> surplus that is, in effect, 'taxation' in excess of public spending
> needs that should be returned to 'the people' or spent on public
> & social services...real cause of housing crisis lies with govt's
> high-land-price policy which deliberately restricts private sector
> housing supply, so gov't intervenes in market with subsidized
> housing program, also paid for 'the people'...barriers to entry
> in the property market undermine people's interests, because
> the market is not very contested, no new firms have become
> significant suppliers of new housing stock...more market based
> solutions to balancing long -term supply with demand and to
> increase competition in property development market is needed...
> as for suggestion that leftists can seize control of the existing
> capitalist state (even a state monopoly one) for socialist
> purposes, didn't Marx write something to the contrary about
> workers doing that? Michael Hoover

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