Hong Kong might be heading for recession after months of violent protests but that hasn’t stopped one businessman from forking out almost $1 million for a parking spot.
The mind-boggling sum paid by Johnny Cheung Shun-yee highlights the gaping inequality that has helped fuel nearly five months of demonstrations in the financial hub, where one in five people live below the poverty line.
The HK$7.6 million ($970,000) price tag is more than 30 times the average annual wage in Hong Kong and about the same as a one-bed apartment in London’s plush Chelsea area.
It is situated in The Centre, the city’s fifth-highest skyscraper, which hit the headlines in October 2017 when it became the world’s most expensive office building after Hong Kong’s richest man sold it for more than $5 billion.
The purchase comes even though there are growing concerns about the impact of the pro-democracy demonstrations on the city’s real estate market with property firms’ share prices plunging in recent months, as they are forced to offer discounts on new projects and cut office rents.
The economy has been tipped to grow just 0-1.0 percent this year, the worst rate since 2009 during the global financial crisis.
“A lot of those owners in The Center are in finance or in other high-growth businesses,” Stanley Poon, a managing director at Centaline Commercial, said. “To these tycoons, it’s not a significant purchase if you compare it to the value of the office floors they own.”
Hong Kong’s white-hot property market has become a political issue as costs continue to soar, forcing some small businesses to close owing to sky-high rents while many residents cannot afford to buy or lease decent homes.
Commercial and residential property prices have been fuelled by an influx of money from wealthy mainland Chinese investors and developers.
While the long-running protests in the city are fired mostly by anger at a now-dead extradition bill and hatred towards the government and police, they are also fanned by anger at the huge disparity between rich and poor.
— Bloomberg News contributed to this story —
Genocide expert breaks down how all of the ‘warning signs’ are present in Trump’s America
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As the United States Senate conducted an impeachment trial for the commander-in-chief, Tannehill posted an extended Twitter thread examining the situation in America from her perspective as a researcher studying the conditions that lead to genocide.
Here is what she wrote:
I study genocide. It's been a theme in my academic endeavours for nearly 30 years. More accurately, I study the conditions in the lead up to genocide, be they cultural, social, political, economic, etc... 1/n
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Both the US President and the Sussexes have begun 2020 with a bang.
The former is facing down an impeachment trial -- and seeking re-election in November -- while the latter are beginning a new chapter in Canada after consciously uncoupling from the gilded but pressured career of being a working British royal.
But if experts in the field of Chinese horoscopes are to be believed, it is the US president that will have the easier journey this year.
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"There is justice in John Roberts being forced to preside silently over the impeachment trial of President Trump, hour after hour, day after tedious day," Dana Milbank wrote. "Roberts’s captivity is entirely fitting: He is forced to witness, with his own eyes, the mess he and his colleagues on the Supreme Court have made of the U.S. political system. As representatives of all three branches of government attend this unhappy family reunion, the living consequences of the Roberts Court’s decisions, and their corrosive effect on democracy, are plain to see."