People, Planning and Urban Redevelopment in Hong Kong: The Case of Wedding Card Street
Wing-Shing Tang, Professor of Geography, Hong Kong Baptist University
In the 1980s, i.e., before leaving Hong Kong in 1997, the British rulers of Hong Kong interwove the Chinese traditional system of land ownership with their own to produce a land (re)development regime. This transforms land into an object of government and the central city into the battlefield. The colonial state also invented numerous legal, fiscal, financial, building, architectural and planning technologies to commodify land and housing, and formulated representations of space to rationalize, objectivize and technicize this change to make it seem natural. While some of the residents were excluded from the queue of purchasing commodified flats, others challenged these technologies by calling for the democratization and promotion of the people’s approach. These actions flourished at a turbulent time when Hong Kong was being returned to the China; this was also the time of the Asian Financial Crisis and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
Professor Wing Shing Tang will introduce and analyze the working of Hong Kong’s land (re)development regime produced by the British colonial regime. He will do so by analyzing the redevelopment of the Wedding Card Street. The event received publicity across the world as the exemplar of people’s resistance to urban redevelopment. The street was a neighborhood consisting of buildings from the early 1950s. By the 1980s, the street was considerably occupied by printing shops specializing in wedding cards, thereby the nickname “Wedding Card Street”. In 2000, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) decided to redevelop the neighborhood. The residents organize as H15 Concerned Group, the codename of the project, to oppose the project, using the slogan: “flats and shops are staying; people are staying”. They even challenged the URA in the Town Planning Board by producing their own redevelopment plan, the Dumbbell Proposal. However, the project proceeded with the URA making promises and crushing the buildings. The new blocks of flat were put on sale in January 2014. Professor Tang will talk about the rhetoric and reality involved in the planning and resistance of the Wedding Card Street Redevelopment Project.
Wing-Shing TANG is Professor at Department of Geography, Hong Kong Baptist University. He is currently a Member of the Editorial Board of Urban Geography and Eurasian Geography and Economics, the Editor for East Asia and Member of the Editorial Board of Human Geography: A Radical Journal and Associate Editor of City, Culture and Society. His current research focuses on urban (re)development and planning in Hong Kong and mainland China, and comparative urban research between China and South Asia. In interrogating Lefebvre, Foucault, Gramsci, Harvey and others, he attempts to construct a better informed epistemological and methodological understanding of urban (re)development based on Chinese philosophy and thinking.
Dr. Tang’s visit is sponsored by the Department of Urban Planning, Department of Geography, Department of Anthropology, the Center for Middletown Studies, the Center for Business and Economic Research, and the Office of Institutional Diversity.