A local delegate to the National People’s Congress has suggested building “Hong Kong villages” in the Greater Bay Area and allowing residents in the villages to gain Hong Kong permanent residency after seven years.

Cheng Yiu-tong, a former lawmaker of the Federation of Trade Unions, said in an interview with Headline Daily that Hong Kong should rent land from cities such as Huizhou, Zhuhai and Zhongshan. Cheng said he has proposed the idea to Chief Executive Carrie Lam. He suggested that Hong Kong laws be applied in the area, which he dubbed “the 19th district of Hong Kong.”

Cheng said Hong Kong should enjoy administrative rights or “a high degree of autonomy” within the rented zone. He proposed renting 20 to 30 square kilometres of land to build public housing for 500,000 to 600,000 people.

Cheng Yiu-tong
Cheng Yiu-tong. File Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

He said Hong Kong’s housing problem has become very serious as 270,000 people were waiting for public housing, and living conditions had deteriorated in the past two decades.

“People would not be able to save enough money to purchase housing even after saving for 20 years, they would not even be able to think about it without support from parents – therefore young people will blame the government,” he said.

“At least we can show those queuing [for public housing] that there is a chance,” he added.

He said he was concerned that some people would “create chaos in society” using housing shortage as an excuse.

Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area
Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area. Photo: HKTDC.

He said his suggestion could resolve the deep level of discontent owing to lack of land supply, and also speed up integration into the Greater Bay Area: “It is as close as moving to Lantau Island.”

He also said Hong Kong can use the new towns to develop technology and attract talented workers, which would benefit both the mainland and Hong Kong. The government can also consider providing transport subsidies, he added.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.