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Lai L.W.C.,Ronald Coase Center for Property Rights Research | Lai L.W.C.,University of Hong Kong
Land Use Policy | Year: 2016

This paper demonstrates that the framing of post-war Kowloon Walled City through photos has been dominated by the maps commonly used to represent this Chinese enclave in colonial Hong Kong as a place. Inspired by and extending Wylie's (2009) argument that emptiness and presence are equally important, this paper uses basic GIS techniques and hitherto unpublished archival materials to help (a) argues that the colonial government's mindset of clearly defining the spatial boundary of the city, which is a subtle admission of an officially and diplomatically denied otherness in ownership, created the city as a quasi-cadastral unit; and (b) explains how this shaped the framing of the landscape of the city by promoting investment and trade in high-rise housing development units. The government did not destroy its walls. When these were physically destroyed, it did not ignore the walls' original alignments but treated the city as a planning unit, as if they still existed. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

Lai L.W.C.,Ronald Coase Center for Property Rights Research | Lai L.W.C.,University of Hong Kong | Lorne F.T.,Ronald Coase Center for Property Rights Research | Lorne F.T.,New York Institute of Technology | And 5 more authors.
Land Use Policy | Year: 2016

The significance of informal land registration in property transactions and development has been discussed at length, but there are few examples of in-depth case studies of how this information accessing and collection institution relates to them and how it may create property rights. This paper examines the nature and operation of non-governmental and voluntary land transaction registration practices in Kowloon Walled City, an ideal example of a privately-planned and developed habitat under unclear property rights due to jurisdictional disputes between China and Britain and no state protection of property rights or intervention in building control existed. Based on documentary evidence interpreted from a Coasian and Hayekian stance, it advances the proposition that the contracts the Kowloon Walled City Kaifong Welfare Promotion Association (hereafter the Kaifong Association) sought to represent as a witness built up its political credibility as a representative body. Such a role not only reduced transaction costs of contract enforcement and, hence, facilitated redevelopment, but also became that of a quasi-government land registrar due to the popularity of its witnessing service, which, under specific circumstances, served as the basis for the assignment of de jure private property rights by the state. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

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