Hong Kong might well be heading for a recession after months of violent protests. But this hasn't stopped one businessman from spending out almost USD 1 million for a parking spot. The huge sum paid by Johnny Cheung Shun-yee focusses on the gaping inequality that has helped fuel almost five months of demonstrations in the financial hub, where one out of five people lives below the poverty line. The massive HK$7.6 million (USD 970,000) price tag is more than 30 times the average annual wage in Hong Kong. Also, it is almost the same as a one-bed apartment in London's Chelsea area. It is situated in The Centre, the city's fifth-highest skyscraper, and hit the headlines in October 2017 when it became world's most expensive office building after Hong Kong's richest man sold it for over USD 5 billion.
The purchase comes even though there are increasing concerns about the impact of the pro-democracy demonstrations on the city's real estate space with property firms' share prices plunging in last few months, as they are forced to offer some discounts on new projects and cut office rents. The economy has been tipped to grow a marginal 0-1.0 per cent this year, and it is the worst rate since 2009 during the global financial crisis. Stanley Poon, a Managing Director at Centaline Commercial, said that a lot of those owners in The Center are in finance or in other high-growth businesses. 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 key political issue as costs continue to soar, which lead to 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 the wealthy mainland Chinese investors and developers.