Accumulation - Martin Man - Looking for Land

Looking for Land

Martin Man

Proposed location of LTV artificial islands as seen from Peng Chau. The proposed first phase of reclamation would completely surround Kau Yi Chau, the central island. In the distance, the Kowloon skyline can be seen on the left and the south side of Hong Kong Island on the right. Source: Martin Man, 2021.

November 2023

One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Hong Kong is known as much for its position as a major global financial center as for its tightly packed high-rise urban form, a reputation proliferated through distinctive images of its skyline and towering residential housing. The social consequences of this super-dense organization—attributable to a lack of flat land in the territory’s hilly geography—have in recent decades become particularly grave. Increasing inequalities in access to adequate housing have led to inhumanely tight living spaces in subdivided flats and so-called “cage homes” and “coffin cubicles.”1 In 2018, the Hong Kong government issued a proposal for the creation of several artificial islands to increase land supply, entailing reclamation at an unprecedented scale and cost. Although the government is no newcomer to reclaiming land for urban development, the heavy-handed plan represents the city’s foundational logics of land commodification and rampant real estate speculation brought to an extreme. Interrupted by a year of pro-democracy protests and violent crackdowns immediately followed by the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a feasibility study for this “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” was approved in December 2020. An interim report submitted by the Hong Kong government’s Development Bureau to the city’s Legislative Council in December 2022 indicated that it is forging ahead with the plan, and intends to start reclamation as soon as 2025.

But with lingering political instability and a serious economic downturn after five major Covid-19 outbreaks, the project’s future continues to be severely questioned even as societal disparities worsen, fueled by inflation and a rising cost of living.2 After an intense period of rupture, the city has been forced to chart its course forward in a greatly altered milieu. The government, however, is returning Hong Kong to “business as usual,” which in this case means a relentless engine of neoliberalism driven by expanding real estate capital. In a time of worsening climate emergency, such a crucial moment should instead be seized upon to more radically re-orient the city’s urban development trajectory and its socio-economic foundations for a more just and sustainable future.

Sites for artificial island reclamation proposed by the original Lantau Tomorrow Vision in 2018, along with associated transport development. Source: Hong Kong Government, 2018.

Lantau Tomorrow Vision

Since the 1950s the Hong Kong Government has, with varying levels of commitment and intensity, built public housing to alleviate the problem of unaffordable private-market housing for the city’s low-income population. The program began in 1953, after a devastating fire in an informal squatter settlement in Shek Kip Mei left 50,000 people homeless. As the city’s economy grew in the 1960s and 1970s and more and more people moved to Hong Kong, housing estates continued to be built to combat the growth of informal housing, particularly in large planned “new towns” such as Shatin and Tuen Mun in the New Territories. By the 1980s, Hong Kong’s public housing program had expanded to house nearly half the population.3 Today, the proportion of the population in public housing still stands at around 44%, or around 3.3 million people.

Rolling 10-year public housing construction targets have been set since the city’s 1997 handover back to China, but in recent years the government has consistently failed to meet them. Studies by one housing policy think tank found that in the period between 2014–2022, on average 15% of public housing projects were delayed each year,4 and estimated that between 2022–2032, the number of public housing units built will fall 8% short of the government’s target for 301,000 flats in that period.5 These shortfalls mean that since 2015, the Housing Authority has not been able to hold to its objective for an average three-year wait time for a flat—a target that was set by the first chief executive Tung Chee-hwa after the city’s handover to China in 1997 to address housing needs and was reaffirmed by the Secretary for Housing in 2022.[6] The shortage of units has resulted in an average wait time of 5.5 years for those assigned housing during the 12-month period from February 2022-2023.6 Although this has come down from a mid-2022 peak of 6.1 years, it is little solace for the 229,900 housing applicants who are low-income and often left in precarious living situations.7

In order to address its housing shortage, the government has insisted that new land must be sought out for development. Official estimates project the need for at least 1,200 hectares of land to be developed in the coming three decades to meet the city’s demand for space. In April 2018, then-Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor established a “Task Force on Land Supply” (TFLS) to conduct a five-month-long public consultation process covering eighteen different options for meeting that need for land.8 Among the options, which included developing brownfield sites, agricultural land, and a New Territories golf course, was the creation of a large artificial island off the east coast of Lantau Island.9 The city’s sparsely populated but largest island, Lantau is home to high levels of terrestrial and coastal biodiversity, and has until now largely remained undeveloped, with 70% of its area protected as country parks.

Tung Chung New Town on the north side of Lantau Island, where dense urban development on the island has been concentrated until now. To the left is Hong Kong’s airport, itself built on reclaimed land. In the distance, a stretch of the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge can be seen, as well as barges carrying out further reclamation work for an extension of Tung Chung. Source: Martin Man, 2019.

The idea of reclamation off the coast of Lantau Island has circulated for decades. Its direct predecessor was a proposal in 2014 by Lam’s predecessor Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying for an “East Lantau Metropolis.” In August 2018, the Our Hong Kong Foundation think tank, which was founded by Hong Kong’s first Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa, issued its own proposal for a 2,200-hectare landfill project east of Lantau.10 Two months later, in her October Policy Address for 2018, Carrie Lam unexpectedly laid out a plan for a 1,700-hectare reclamation project in the same waters named “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” (LTV).11 The announcement was criticized by many for the potential cost and dramatic scale, as well as for subverting Lam’s own task force since its public consultation process had not yet been concluded.12

Lam’s Policy Address called for the immediate commencement of “a study on phased reclamation near Kau Yi Chau and Hei Ling Chau for the construction of artificial islands … with the aim of commencing the first phase of reclamation in 2025.” The stated aim is to provide land to build 260,000–400,000 residential units, 70% of which are to be public housing for 700,000–1,100,000 people.13 In addition to supplying much needed housing, the plan projects the development of a third “core business district” for Hong Kong, after the Central and Kowloon East districts. Emphasizing multiple public transport and road linkages to the artificial islands, the government seeks to transform Lantau into a “Double Gateway” that connects various local development areas with China’s “Greater Bay Area” development initiative, centered on the heavily urbanized Pearl River Delta region in Guangdong Province. The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge, completed in 2018, starts on the north-west side of Lantau, and is a key element of this larger regional network.

Land use concept plan showing siting of the artificial islands, an internal transit line, and external rail and road links to the rest of Hong Kong. Source: Hong Kong Government, 2022.

Succeeding Lam in 2022, Chief Executive John Lee Ka Chiu has forged ahead with his predecessor’s scheme. The government’s Development Bureau submitted an interim report in December 2022 to the Hong Kong Legislative Council on details for the siting of the islands and elaborated their transport links. The proposal has revised the previous two-island plan to three islands surrounding the existing Kau Yi Chau, citing the need for an ecological buffer zone as well as water quality, wind, and engineering considerations. Seven residential neighborhoods have been spread across the three islands along with a core business district on the east side, facing Hong Kong Island. Public mass transit links the three islands internally, and external connections lead to western HK Island, northern Lantau Island, the New Territories, and beyond to Shenzhen in mainland China. The project’s timeline remains largely unchanged, with reclamation expected to begin in late 2025 and the islands’ first residents moving in 2033.

A shortage of land, which leads to soaring property prices, is viewed by the city’s leadership as Hong Kong’s greatest obstacle to maintaining “competitiveness” with other major cities in the region such as Singapore and those in Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.14 Throughout the development of the LTV scheme, officials have stressed the city’s dire need for land and the LTV as the solution.15 Despite this characterization, only around 24% of Hong Kong’s land mass has been built upon, with residential housing taking up just 7% of all land area.16 Due to the historic concentration of development on either side of Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong has previously relied on land reclamation to expand its urbanized core, located on the Kowloon Peninsula and a thin strip of land on the north side of Hong Kong Island. Although reclaimed areas make up approximately 6% of the territory’s total current land mass, they host 27% of the city’s population and 70% of its commercial activity.17

Map of Hong Kong land utilization by type. Source: Hong Kong Planning Department, 2016.

Although the territory’s mountainous geography is a factor, there are also many areas in the New Territories outside the city’s traditional core made up of low-density semi-rural or suburban “villages” and light industrial land uses. Ceded to the United Kingdom decades after Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, the main landmass of the New Territories constitutes over two-thirds of the city’s land and is the location of many post-war “new towns.”18 Local policy think tanks have identified at least 1,480 hectares of land—more than the government’s stated need—in the New Territories primarily dispersed among underutilized brownfield sites that could be suitable for development. Critics of LTV point to such areas as evidence that the city does not lack existing land resources for development. Due a lack of political will to tackle complex land rights and enforce planning regulations, most of these sites have been passed over for redevelopment by the city, despite often being sited close to existing infrastructure. Discounting their potential, however, is in line with the government’s purposeful manufacturing of a narrative of land scarcity through policy decisions throughout history.

The Production of Spatial Scarcity

From the very outset of colonization, the control and management of Hong Kong’s land supply was an overriding concern for the nascent administration. Immediately following the cession of Hong Kong Island to the United Kingdom in 1842, sites were being claimed and built on along Victoria Harbour without any official approval or planning process. This created a highly competitive and speculative property market even before proper administration was established.19 Far from tamping it down, such speculative demand was purposely sustained throughout the colonial era and has only intensified since.

“Hong Kong During Reclamation,” photograph from the collection of F. Hagger, 1933. Image courtesy of Historical Photographs of China, University of Bristol.

Two peculiarities regarding the politics of land are present in Hong Kong with regard to land reclamation and the LTV. The first is that the city government inherited the ownership of all land in the territory from the preceding colonial administration. This means that, aside from a single plot of freehold land upon which the 1849 St. John’s Cathedral sits, all land in Hong Kong is leased from the city. Rental contracts range from short-term, to the current standard fifty-year lease, to historically granted seventy-five and ninety-nine-year leases (a few were even signed for 999 years, early in the colony’s history). For every new parcel of land that becomes available, the government holds an auction and attaches specific development criteria to its lease contract. Revenue from land auctions alone made up 21% of government revenue in 2020.20 Significant additional revenue is generated when a leaseholder modifies the lease terms and pays a premium on the resulting change in property value, as well as from stamp duties for land transactions.

Secondly, the Hong Kong government has historically relied on manipulating land supply in order to influence the private housing market and sustain its property prices, particularly in times of economic downturn. One of the major reasons for the current shortfall in public housing units and unaffordable private housing is due to the government’s termination of its “Home Ownership Scheme” for the subsidized sale of public housing in 2002. Done in response to a collapse in the property market at the time, the government also stopped all scheduled land auctions and adopted a policy of “positive non-interventionism,” committing to propping up property prices and leaving private developers to supply homes instead.21 By 2012, this policy had contributed to housing unaffordability reaching unprecedented levels, with median home prices at 13.5 times the median annual household income—the highest globally among 337 cities surveyed.22 In that year, and after a decade of protests over rising housing costs and economic inequality, newly-appointed Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying reversed his predecessor’s policy and promised to resume expanding public housing stock.23

While public, social, and political pressures have driven the government to seek ways to alleviate problems of housing affordability by increasing both land and public housing supply, its fundamental economic reliance on revenues generated from land auctions motivates it to continually restrict supply so as to fetch the highest returns possible from its “assets.”24 Here again, such policies have precedent in the earliest days of the city’s history. As a “free port,” the colonial government could not levy customs duties on imported goods. In order for the colony to finance itself without subsidies from London—and thus also maintain a measure of political autonomy—revenue from land was relied upon as a crucial source of income.25 Absent natural resources to extract, the British colonial elite maintained conditions of scarcity by limiting land supply even in times of great demand for housing.26

Rather than producing spaces for capitalist industry or consumption, the bedrock of the city’s economy instead became a “production” of spatial scarcity. The colonial administration withheld large tracts of pristine land from development not for environmental protection, but to serve as an asset held in reserve. These regions—comprising 40% of Hong Kong’s total area—were later formalized into “country parks” in 1976, ostensibly to provide managed public access to natural spaces, but in fact also acted as a so-called “land bank” upon which the government could draw when revenue needed to be raised.27 The unintended popularity of these natural spaces and the growth of public environmental awareness has ironically impeded more recent attempts by the government to develop such greenfield sites, further pushing officials to turn to major land reclamation.28

Although the LTV is meant to increase land and public housing supply, shortening waiting times and relieving housing pressures, the city is also banking on large revenues to be gained from auctioning off the new land to developers, who in turn expect to make high returns on the private sale of apartments. Indeed, the government’s stated plan is to recoup the plan’s estimated construction cost of HK$580 billion (~US$74 billion)—the costliest infrastructural project ever undertaken by the Hong Kong government—from the sale of development rights on private residential and commercial sites, which it estimates will result in a revenue of HK$750 billion.29 All of this relies on the successful manufacture of scarcity, which in turn relies on high demand for new real estate. But with the rise of Chinese mega-cities in the region, the concurrent delivery of other large new urban developments in the territory such as the New Territories North area, and continued population decline, the city continues to lose its central economic position.30

Land reclamation in Tung Chung East on Lantau Island, a new neighborhood across from the Hong Kong International Airport, where land has also recently been reclaimed for a third runway. Source: Hong Kong Government Development Bureau, 2020.

Challenge of the Anthropocene

With severe anthropogenic degradation of the global environment and a deepening climate emergency, this reliance on sustained growth in property and land expansion needs to be checked. Aside from the great resource and financial cost of the LTV, such a large-scale disturbance to the region’s ecology means it should be a last, if ever—and certainly not first—resort. The sourcing and relocation of marine sand for landfill will greatly impact marine ecosystems, which will also disrupt the livelihoods of fishermen relying on fish stocks in the waters east of Lantau.31 Moreover, studies have shown that reclamation activities have significantly changed the geo-morphology of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region, particularly as they compound the effects of continued sea-level rise. Sand mining for land fill, dredging for navigation channels, and reclamation along the southwestern PRD have changed tidal dynamics and sediment deposition patterns, causing estuary areas to erode.32 A 2017 study on Deep Bay, adjacent to the Pearl River Estuary in northeast Hong Kong, also found that narrowing the bay mouth through reclamation would reduce water flow and velocity. The resulting decrease in salinity levels and weakened water stratification could significantly disrupt habitats and affect the water’s nutrient content, leading to ocean “dead zones.”33

Areas of Hong Kong and Kowloon at risk of flooding in 2030 during extreme storm surges coupled with sea level rise. Source: China Water Risk, 2019.

Moreover, the Hong Kong Observatory predicts sea-level rise of 0.63–1.07m by the end of this century if high levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue.34 Research by China Water Risk that factors in storm surges estimates up to 5.87m of extreme storm tides during typhoons by as early as 2030. Such a flooding event would see the city’s densely urbanized core areas on either side of Victoria Harbour severely inundated, in addition to a disruption of crucial port infrastructure. Already judged to be under-prepared for climate risks, the city cannot afford further disturbance to local marine ecosystems and tidal patterns, nor should it contribute to global climate degradation through highly resource and energy-intensive expansion.35

Left unchecked, its “Lantau Tomorrow” vision easily transforms into delusion. The only way to perpetuate Hong Kong’s current development policy is to imagine that urban growth and property prices can continue to rise indefinitely, fueled by developers buying up ever more tracts of reclaimed real estate. Not only does this outstrip realistic considerations of resource use, but with the city’s population already entering decline, demand for property and space may soon evaporate.36 Once it does, the government will find it has no buyers for its land-commodities, threatening to collapse the city’s economic foundation.

For the sake of its own survival and the planet’s, Hong Kong is being called to realize not only a more equitable re-distribution of space, but a radically different relation to the land in service of both the environment and the people’s interest. Running counter to its reputation as a “city without ground,” the Anthropocene demands more than ever that Hong Kong instead be grounded in the reality and exigencies of the earth.37 Although the government has until now sustained, capitalized, and relied on land commodification, it possesses great opportunity to stake out a different vision of land management and urban development given the unusual circumstance of its total public ownership of land. There is great latent potential in a publicly-controlled land tenure system, with built-in mechanisms for retrieving land from private leasehold, and others for regulating private uses. The power of entrenched real estate and financial interests poses an enormous obstacle for any popularly initiated re-orientation of land policy and administration away from sustaining “free” markets to that which stewards space for the public good. How to ensure that development happens in the interest of the people rather than capital, particularly in the absence of democratic institutions is an open question of political strategy. If attained, however, the possibilities for immediate action on socially equitable, climate-resilient, and ecologically regenerative urban development are unlocked in a way difficult to imagine for cities which must claw back control of land and space from private hands.

To call for the “freest economy in the world” to fundamentally re-orient away from rampant capitalist growth may seem utopian and even unimaginable. Yet in the face of political instability, pandemic, economic downturn, population decline, and a mounting global climate emergency wherein the sea itself threatens to “reclaim” the city, it is the untenable contradictions of urban development—by which logic LTV has been deemed “rationally justified”—that are detached from reality. However, hints of what a more ecologically attuned future for the city might resemble exist within the proposal itself.

Altar within the temple to Tin Hau on Peng Chau. Source: Martin Man, 2021.

The Lantau Tomorrow Vision heralds a “gateway” for Hong Kong to the “Greater Bay Area”—China’s initiative to develop the Pearl River Delta as a coordinated megalopolis. Although the project represents another fantasy of limitless expansion, its appeal to the larger regional unit of the estuary serves to re-inscribe and re-territorialize Hong Kong in relation to its location at the eastern edge of this transitional, liminal area between sea and land. A reimagined alternative for the city’s future might reconnect it with a somewhat recently written but marginalized history of South China. From the medieval era into the early modern period, the Pearl River Delta region had deep ties with the history of maritime trade in the region, which connected South Chinese communities with a network of port towns and trade emporia stretching from Quanzhou to Malacca, India, Arabia, and Eastern Africa.38 This trade led to the intermingling of numerous societies at each port, creating maritime zones that were historically crucial to relations between state and coastal actors, but also frequently semi-autonomous to, or even uncontrollable by, centrally-landed governments.39 The people who lived off the sea, fishing and trading within such coastal spaces, likewise had ambiguous relationships with conventional ethnic and cultural categorizations.40 These interfaces and cross-state regions were often porous, multi-national realms, contrasting strongly with recent efforts by states to territorialize the South China Sea, as well as China’s own “Twenty-First-Century Maritime Silk Road” exercise in extrastatecraft.41

Rather than rehearsing unsustainable dreams of limitless globalized development for the region or creating ever more commodified artificial land to feed into an endless market, we can perhaps hold on to the Lantau Tomorrow Vision’s evocation of a bay area community in a way that revives an attentiveness to the geographical, ecological, social, and historical heritage of the region. As the destabilized climates and rising seas of the Anthropocene demand Hong Kong rethink its future urban and societal development, a re-framing of the city’s place in a wider maritime region releases it from arbitrary political and administrative boundaries which confine it to its limited territory. Abandoning neoliberal growth narratives, conventional geopolitical structures, and re-animating such ties to a trans-national and fluid maritime history, as well as to the tides themselves, might point the way to face not only Gaia, but also天后, Tin Hau, worshipped throughout the South China region and also known as媽祖, Mazu, the Mother, Goddess, and Queen of the Sea.


Naomi Ng, “Coffin Cubicles, Caged Homes and Subdivisions … Life inside Hong Kong’s Grim Low Income Housing,” South China Morning Post, 20 July, 2018, accessed 9 May, 2019. See .


Hillary Leung, “Hong Kong’s League of Social Democrats urges HK$10k cash handouts, opposes ‘white elephant’ development projects,” Hong Kong Free Press, February 14, 2023, accessed February 27, 2023. See .


Adrienne La Grange and Frederik Pretorius, “Shifts along the Decommodification-Commodification Continuum: Housing Delivery and State Accumulation in Hong Kong,” Urban Studies 42, no. 13 (2005): 2477.


Ryan Ip and Calvin Au, “How Hong Kong can untangle the Gordian knot of public housing,” South China Morning Post, June 24, 2022, accessed February 27, 2023. See .


Edith Lin, “Hong Kong could fall short of public housing supply targets by 8 per cent, a think tank estimates as it calls for transparency from government,” South China Morning Post, May 31, 2022, accessed February 27, 2023. See .


“Average waiting time for public housing drops to 5.5 years,” The Standard, February 16, 2023, accessed February 27, 2023. See .


Edith Lin, “Average waiting time for public housing flat in Hong Kong rises to 6.1 years, highest in more than 2 decades,” South China Morning Post, May 12, 2022, accessed February 27, 2023. See . “Average waiting time,” The Standard.


Shirley Zhao, Olga Wong, and Naomi Ng, “Will Hong Kong’s ‘big Debate’ on Land Just Be Led by Fat Cats?” South China Morning Post, July 20, 2018, accessed May 9, 2019. See .


Shirley Zhao, “Four of 17 Proposals to Boost Land Supply Can Yield Results in Decade,” South China Morning Post, July 20, 2018, accessed May 9, 2019. See .


Shirley Zhao, “Lantau Tomorrow Vision is arguably Hong Kong’s most important and controversial project. Here’s what you need to know about HK$624 billion plan,” South China Morning Post, March 21, 2019, accessed May 9, 2019. See .


Emily Tsang, “Five Key Takeaways from Carrie Lam’s Policy Address,” South China Morning Post, October 10, 2018, accessed May 9, 2019. See .


City Forum, “明日大嶼填海造島 今天眾評施政報告 “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” in 2018 Policy Address, ” performed by Ling Kar-kan, Lau Chun-kong, Albert Lai Kwong-tak, Tom Yam, Billy Mak Sui-choi, 14 Oct., 2018, RTHK. See .


Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, “The Chief Executive’s 2018 Policy Address,” (Policy Address, Hong Kong, 2018). See .


Lilian Cheng, “Hong Kong leader says work on Northern Metropolis and Lantau artificial islands to proceed simultaneously, no need to prioritise one over the other,” South China Morning Post, Mar 28, 2023, accessed May 2, 2023. See .


City Forum, “Lantau Tomorrow Vision.”


Robert Gottlieb and Simon Ng, Global Cities: Urban Environments in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and China, (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2017), 208.; Naomi Ng, “Land Supply Debate Shows Hongkongers’ Views on Reclamation Changing,” South China Morning Post, August 25, 2018, accessed May 9, 2019. See .


Naomi Ng, “How Hong Kong’s first land reclamation project sprang from a devastating fire,” South China Morning Post, December 10, 2018, accessed March 25, 2021. See .


“Hong Kong Geographic Data,” Survey & Mapping Office, Lands Department, January 2023.


Nissim, Land Administration, 3.


Legislative Council Research Office, “Major sources of government revenue,” (Hong Kong, 2021).


Si-ming Li, ‘Burst of the Property Bubble and Hong Kong’s Changing land and Housing Policies Post-1997’, Eurasian Geography and Economics 57, no. 2 (2016): 8-9.


“9th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2013,” (Demographia, 2013).


Li, “Burst of the Property Bubble,” 12.


Rebecca L. H. Chiu, ‘Planning, Land, and Affordable Housing in Hong Kong’, Housing Studies 22, no. 1, (2007): 70.


Nissim, Land Administration, 11.


Fujio Mizuoka, Contrived Laissez-Faireism: The Politico-Economic Structure of British Colonialism in Hong Kong, (Springer, 2018).


Gottlieb and Ng, Global Cities, 209.; Mizuoka 47-48.


The Green Earth, “Joint Statement Green groups refuse to participate in the destruction of Country Parks,” July 12, 2018, accessed March 26, 2021. See .


Hong Kong Development Bureau, “Study on the Artificial Islands in the Central Waters,” LC Paper No. CB(1)930/2022(01), December 29, 2022.


Michael Wong, “New Territories North New Development Area,” Blog Articles From Former Secretary For Development, Mr Michael Wong, Hong Kong Development Bureau, September 5, 2021, accessed March 5, 2023. See . William Yiu, “Hong Kong’s population drops for 3rd straight year, while city posts net outflow of 60,000 residents in 2022,” South China Morning Post, February 16, 2023, accessed March 5, 2023. See .


Letters, “Carrie Lam’s Lantau Tomorrow plan is shortsighted on cost and sources of fill material for reclamation,” South China Morning Post, March 15, 2019, accessed May 9, 2019. See . Shirley Zhao, “Island residents warn against Lantau Tomorrow Vision reclamation, fearing pollution would be ‘sins for a thousand years,’” South China Morning Post, November 25, 2018, accessed May 9, 2019. See .


Wei Zhang, et al, “Morphological Change in the Pearl River Delta, China,” Marine Geology 363 (2015): 204.


Ye Yang and Ting Fong May Chui, “Hydrodynamic and Transport Responses to Land Reclamation in Different Areas of Semi-Enclosed Subtropical Bay,” Continental Shelf Research 143 (2017): 65.; Shirley Zhao, “Smelly harbours and lifeless waters? Lantau Tomorrow Vision reclamation could add to nearby ‘dead zone’, scientists warn,” South China Morning Post, December 30, 2018, accessed March 29, 2021. See .


Lui Wing-hong, “On sea level rise and abnormal sea level in Hong Kong,” Hong Kong Observatory, April 2018, accessed March 1, 2023. See .


Debra Tan, Chien Tat Low, Dharisha Mirando, “HK Submerged? Is This Map For Real?,” China Water Risk, November 18, 2019. See .


William Yiu, “Hong Kong’s population drops for 3rd straight year, while city posts net outflow of 60,000 residents in 2022,” South China Morning Post, February 16, 2023, accessed March 1, 2023. See .


Adam Frampton, Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook, (Berkeley: 2012).


See Chaudhuri, K.N, “Emporia Trade and the Great Port-Towns in the Indian Ocean,” in Trade and Civilization in the Indian Ocean, (Cambridge 1985), 98-118.


Takeshi Hamashita, ‘Tribute and Treaties: Maritime Asia and Treaty Port Networks in the Era of Negotiation, 1800-1900,’ in The Resurgence of East Asia: 500, 150 and 50 Year Perspectives, ed. Giovanni Arrighi, Takeshi Hamashita, and Mark Selden, (London: Routledge, 2003), 17-50.


As research done by anthropologists Helen F. Siu and Liu Zhiwei on the so-called “Dan” people has shown. Helen F. Siu and Liu Zhiwei, “Lineage, Market, Pirate, and Dan: Ethnicity in the Pearl River Delta of South China,” in Empire at the Margins: Culture, Ethnicity, and Frontier in Early Modern China, ed. Pamela Kyle Crossley, Helen F. Siu, and Donald S. Sutton, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 285-310.


Keller Easterling, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space (London: Verso, 2014).

Accumulation is a project by e-flux Architecture and Daniel A. Barber produced in cooperation with the University of Technology Sydney (2023); the PhD Program in Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design (2020); the Princeton School of Architecture (2018); and the Princeton Environmental Institute at Princeton University, the Speculative Life Lab at the Milieux Institute, Concordia University Montréal (2017).

Architecture, Urbanism, Land & territory, Colonialism & Imperialism
East Asia, State & Government, Decolonization, Anthropocene
Return to Accumulation

Martin Man recently graduated from the Yale School of Architecture having previously majored in art history at Vassar College, and is originally from Hong Kong. In addition to architecture he is concerned with issues relating to social justice in cities and planning, as well as how to face the challenge posed to people and the built environment at all scales by the current climate emergency.


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