Hong Kong’s government wants to build 4,200 acres of artificial islands in the South China Sea, hoping to solve a housing crisis that’s gripped roughly 20 percent of its population.
But the first phase of the plan, called Lantau Tomorrow Vision, which would create nearly 2,500 acres of space for a new office district and up to 260,000 apartments, has drawn heavy criticism, according to the LA Times. Opponents say the proposal is expensive and disastrous for the environment and for its residents if a typhoon were to hit.
Construction of Lantau Tomorrow Vision would cost $80 billion, more than half of Hong Kong’s total cash reserves.
Typhoons are expected to become stronger, and sea level rise could double previous projects, Lam Chiu-ying, a geography professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, wrote. “To go for a gigantic artificial island facing the open sea in a warming world is an unequivocally disastrous move,” he said in a South China Morning Post op-ed.
The city, one of the most expensive housing markets in the world, also has one of the biggest gaps between rich and poor.
More than 1.37 million people in Hong Kong are below the poverty line, crammed in illegal “coffin apartments” and rooftop shacks. The government has proposed solving the problem in the past by looking to create more land. Officials last year proposed blasting caverns into hills and mountains throughout the city to free up 69 acres of land, a project that would take eight years and cost $265 million. [LA Times] — Katherine Kallergis