Cities and the Super-Rich

Part of the series The Contemporary City pp 229-252


Tycoon City: Political Economy, Real Estate and the Super-Rich in Hong Kong

  • Bart WissinkAffiliated withDepartment of Public Policy, City University of Hong Kong
  • , Sin Yee KohAffiliated withInstitute of Asian Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam
  • , Ray ForrestAffiliated withDepartment of Public Policy, City University of Hong Kong


Hong Kong is highly unequal. In this chapter, we first show that wealth and inequality are structured by a political economy centring on small government and real estate profits. The underlying urban development model contains urbanisation, while restricting access to land to a small group that is fabulously rich. Next, we discern three reasons for the initial acceptance of this political economy: a mixed coalition reached sustained agreement on core policies; an ideology ‘sold’ these policies to the larger public; and social welfare policies redistributed benefits. Third, we argue that this support has now disappeared, because the government has been reluctant to face the consequences of domestic and foreign real estate investments for the non-rich. Unfortunately, a new social contract seems out of reach in the current political climate.