Hong Kong Overhaul Can Rein In Tycoons, Pro-Beijing Party Says
(Bloomberg) -- A leader of a new pro-Beijing political party said an overhaul of how Hong Kong picks its leaders could weaken property interests enough to enact policies to address the financial hub’s infamous housing issues.
An “outdated legislature” and “a lot of other political bickering” have gotten in the way of solving the city’s housing problem, Bauhinia Party co-founder Charles Wong Chau-chi said in an interview Tuesday.
“If we have electoral systems that are far more open, with the right representation, then in a way we can actually dilute a lot of the political, a lot of monopoly you’re talking about,” Wong told Bloomberg Television. “A long-term housing policy in Hong Kong is necessary, so no one should stand in its way.”
China’s parliament last week approved major changes to how Hong Kong picks its leaders, an overhaul that guarantees it has the final say over political candidates. The changes are expected to be fleshed out by the National People’s Congress’ leadership body and sent to the former British colony to be implemented -- fulfilling Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call for “patriots” to lead the city.
The Bauhinia Party, which is named after the flower adorning Hong Kong’s flag, was founded last year by Western-educated businessmen who were born on the mainland and have links to the Communist Party. The organization is small, but Wong previously said it has consulted with officials in Hong Kong’s government and Beijing’s main body for overseeing the city.
When Hong Kong was rocked by months of protests in 2019, Chinese state media repeatedly cited the housing crisis as the “root cause” of the unrest. Communist Party-controlled news outlets said Hong Kong’s government should take idle land from property developers to build affordable housing.
That put the spotlight on families that have built huge fortunes in Hong Kong real estate. The Kwok, Li, Lee and Cheng clans control four of the city’s biggest property companies and developed some of the most expensive buildings in main business areas.
Hong Kong had the world’s least affordable housing market for the 11th year in 2020, according to a report published by think tanks Urban Reform Institute and Frontier Centre for Public Policy. The median property price was 20.7 times the median household income last year.
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