Hong Kong / The Right to walk on Ground

The Right to walk on Ground (在地面上行走的權力) © 2014, Zhu Tao, HKClassBoycott 2014


Umbrella Movement was somehow based a previous event, the Students’ Strike organized by HKFS (Hong Kong Federation of Students). During the Students’ Strike, HKFS encouraged current students to boycott classes and lectures and come out to Tamar Park, Admiralty to listen to invited lecturers to talk about democracy.

One of the lecture topics is called “The Right to walk on Ground (在地面上行走的權力)” concerning the relationship between space and politics, by Professor Zhu Tao.

Interestingly, he categorized the ground as a tangible core value of Hong Kong while freedom, democracy, etc. as the intangible. In his lecture, he explained that the ground as the base for the people to exert their rights on democracy has been neglected by the government and architects in Hong Kong. As a result, walking on actual ground is becoming more and more infrequent. Many children are so used to floors made of marbles that they are even afraid to walk on grass. Large amount of land is being occupied by the podium and tower mega-structures which means public open spaces citizens can enjoy on ground are either lifted up to the sky or pushed beneath ground.

With less and less respect on the rights citizens especially pedestrians can enjoy, Hong Kong has become a city not encouraging people to walk outdoors but stay indoors with comfortable floors. This also means that protesters will be more and more difficult to organize their movements and parades because the lack of actual open spaces for democracy.



Zhu Tao, Sina Weibo. (2014) The Right to walk on Ground (在地面上行走的權力). [Online] Available from: http://www.weibo.com/p/23041849e53b730102v2xv. [Accessed: 19th December 2014].

2 Comments on “Hong Kong / The Right to walk on Ground

  1. It is a good point, but what is ground in Hong Kong? The ground in HK is so artificial, whether built as pedestrian infrastructure, multi-level shopping malls or simply reclaimed land, that it is unclear what somebody means when they say “ground”. It also obfuscates the idea of public space. When all ground is built by private, or by private-public partnerships with little tangible public control, what claim to that land can the public make?

  2. It is interesting topic to draw a connection between the ground datum of the city and the right of citizenship of using the space as a symbolism of democratic society. With a limited land resources in Hong Kong, more and more undeveloped land is planned for building public and private housings, infrastructure or tourism. I think it is time to reflect on how to strike a balance between preserving the public space (parks and promenades) that belongs to all citizens and the future development of the city.

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