Income inequality in Hong Kong has hit its highest level in almost 50 years as a red-hot property bubble squeezes the financial hub's most vulnerable and risks fuelling social tensions, Income inequality in the financial hub of Hong Kong has hit its highest level in almost 50 years as a red-hot property bubble squeezes the city's most vulnerable and risks further fuelling social tensions, according to a household income report published by Oxfam this month. Ciara Lee reports.
It's home to some of the richest people in the world. And its gleaming skyline represents some of the biggest firms. But as Hong Kong prepares to mark 20 years since it was handed back from British to Chinese rule, there's growing tension over the city's wealth gap. Soaring property prices and an economy dominated by land tycoons is driving the wedge. According to Oxfam, richest 10 percent of households now earn close to 44 times more than the poorest 10 percent. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OXFAM SENIOR HONG KONG MANAGER, KALINA TSANG, SAYING: "We find so many Hong Kong poor people or elderly people living in very small cubicles or in subdivided flats in Hong Kong. I think one of the most urgent things for the new government to do is to increase the public rental housing protection in Hong Kong." Chief executive elect Carrie Lam who takes over on Saturday has vowed to do just that. She wants to calm simmering discontent amongst locals - 79-days of pro-democracy protests in 2014 brought much of the city to a standstill. But she's got a tough job ahead. Two million people live in subsidised public housing and the waiting list is now over four years. (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) VEGETABLE STALL HOLDER, LAU MEI TIN, SAYING: "How are you able to survive? You have to work yourself to death. If you don't work yourself to death you can't cover living costs. The situation in Hong Kong is terrible." Just this week the government dropped charges against a 75-year-old woman following a public outcry. She'd been arrested for selling a piece of cardboard without a hawker license.