CCCH9056 China: Culture, State and Society
Valuing the Land: Stories from Chinese Cities

This course is under the thematic cluster(s) of:

  • The Quest for a Meaningful Life / The Universe and the Question of Meaning (UQM)

[This is a certified Communication-intensive (CI) Course which meets all of the requirements endorsed by HKU’s Senate, including (i) the teaching assessment of oral, written and visual communication ‘literacies’; and (ii) at least 40% of the course grade assigned to communication-rich assessment tasks.]

Course Description

Human beings are both value creators and value destroyers of our lands. Without us, lands have primarily ecological significance, but when we “settle” on land or, in modern capitalism, “buy” land, a different kind of value has been created. Its value is forged by humans’ emotions, ideas, visions, and the calculations of a “return.”.

In modern society, its value has been further complicated by the way we interact among ourselves, in particular through our institutional systems of money, laws, and regulations. Therefore, we have to understand the values of our lands through multidisciplinary lenses , and think about the stories we tell about the land.

In this course, we will explore how we give different values to our land through stories from Chinese cities. In particular, Hong Kong and Guangzhou are the focus of our discussion even though stories from other Chinese cities will be referred to for further illustration. We are going to look at the lands as sites for living, meeting, working, and having fun. We examine how the lands evolve when peoples struggle to adapt both to an ever-changing external environment and to internal intricate considerations. Furthermore, we will also explore stories that show how land become more “valuable” when they are collaborating with one another and adding surplus value through the advancement of technology.

What stories of the land do you hold most dear? How does land relate to your life experience? Who tells the stories of the land and how are those stories in conflict or in harmony with one another? What story do you want most to tell?

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Explain how people bring values to land from general land system perspective.
  2. Conduct an in-depth review on scientific research work on China land issues, digest and present its main points and findings with an aid of diagrams, graphics, charts or tables, in a concise and accurate manner.
  3. Reflect on what they learn from the reading materials/research work on Chinese and system, synthesize their personal experience and present it in an engaging, logical and substantive written essay.
  4. Identify ways to have sustainable development on our lands and effectively communicate the value of land through designing and creating an infographic with small group collaboration.
  5. Analyze the difficulties and values in land redevelopment/rehabilitation/revitalization in Chinese Cities and be able to create a video to showcase a land conversion story.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 8
Fieldwork / Visits 3
Reading / Self-study 48
Assessment: Individual Assignment 20
Assessment: Group project and presentation (incl preparation) 20
Assessment: Group video production and presentation 15
Total: 138

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Individual mini-project 30
Group project and presentation 35
Group video presentation 20
Tutorial participation 15

Required Reading

  • Lai, L. W. C., Ho, D. C. W., & Leung, H. F. (2017). Change in use of land: a practical guide to development in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
  • Nissim, R. (2021). Land administration and practice in Hong Kong (5th ed.). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. [Section II “Present-Day land administration”; Section IV “Future Developments in Land Administration]
  • Wu, F. (2015). Planning for growth: Urban and regional planning in China. New Yor: Routledge. [Chap. 5 “National and regional planning”; Chap. 6 “New practices: New town and eco-city planning”; Chap. 7: “Planning during market transition”]
  • Wu, W., & Gaubatz, P. (2021). The Chinese city (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge. [Chap. 8 “Land markets and management”; Chap. 9 “Urban infrastructure; Chap. 10 “Urban Housing”; Chap. 12 “Lifestyle and social change”; Chap. 14 “Environmental quality and sustainability”]

Lecture Notes and assigned readings will be delivered on Moodle when the course progresses.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr K.T. Wong
Department of Real Estate and Construction, Faculty of Architecture
Tel: 3817 4378
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr K.T. Wong
Department of Real Estate and Construction, Faculty of Architecture
Tel: 3817 4378