Land resumption of Choi Yuen Village for XRL high-speed rail, Hong Kong, China

The Guangzhou–Hong Kong high-speed rail (XRL) would destroy Choi Yuen Tsuen, a farming village of about 500 people. Journalists and activists joined in the protests against the resumption of land.


Choi Yuen Village was a small village situated on the flat land at Kam Tin, Yuen Long in the New Territories of Hong Kong SAR[1]. Its name was bestowed after the government had initiated the land resumption in 2008. "Resumption" means reassuming possession of lands.

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Basic Data
NameLand resumption of Choi Yuen Village for XRL high-speed rail, Hong Kong, China
CountryHong Kong SAR, China
ProvinceHong Kong
SiteKam Tin, Pat Heung, Yuen Long, New Territories
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsExpress Rail Link (XRL)

Alignment: The Hong Kong Section of the Express Rail Link runs from the terminus in West Kowloon, heading north to the Shenzhen/Hong Kong Boundary, where it connects with the Mainland Section.

Terminus: The Terminus will be located to the north of the West Kowloon Cultural District and will be linked to Austin Station and Kowloon Station by footbridges and subways. There will be no intermediate stations in the Hong Kong Section.

Route Length: Approximately 26km in Hong Kong

Railway System: Conventional high-speed railway

Speed: Maximum operating speed 200km/h (Hong Kong Section)

Train Frequency: Minimum 3 minute intervals

Estimated Journey Time:

Between Hong Kong and Futian, Shenzhen: 14 minutes

Between Hong Kong and Shenzhen North: 23 minutes

Between Hong Kong and Guangzhou South: 48 minutes

Latest Estimate of the Railway Project Costs: HKD84.42 billion*

Target Date of Programme to Complete: Third quarter of 2018


The resumption consists of about 17 hectares of private agricultural land of 500 people and clearance of about 10 hectares of government land, to make way for the construction of the stabling sidings and emergency rescue station for the XRL (Hong Kong Section), the Administration provided, in addition to the prevailing ex-gratia allowances, a Special Ex-gratia Re-housing Package exclusively for households in CYT affected by the XRL project. The package comprised of cash allowance and a domestic removal allowance.
Project Area (in hectares)27
Level of Investment (in USD)10,810,000,000 for the whole railway line
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population500
Start Date11/11/2008
End Date30/04/2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesMTR Corporation Limited (MTR) from Hong Kong SAR, China
Relevant government actors-Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government

Environmental justice organisations and other supporters-Post-80s Anti-XRL (80 後反高鐵)

-Anti-express Rail Link Alliance(反高鐵停撥款大聯盟)

-Choi Yuen Village Concern Group (菜園村關注組)

-Choi Yuen Village Support Group (菜園村支援組)

-‘Local Action’ (本土行動)

-People’s Alliance for Minimum Wage (最低工資聯盟)

-Slow Development HK (香港慢慢發行動組)

The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local scientists/professionals
External independent activists, journalists and local peasant groups
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Refusal of compensation
Ascetic-style walk (苦行) = "prostrating walk" (苦行) imitating Tibetan pilgrims. (This is better explained in another EJAtlas case about the general controversy on the high speed Hong Kong railway line)
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Noise pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Development of AlternativesBecause Legco approved funding for the XRL project, Choi Yuen Village could not change its fate of demolition. On 21 February 2010, the residents of Choi Yuen Village submitted a proposal to construct Choi Yuen New Village.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.There was some compensation but: 1)People are forced to go into high-rise buildings and moving to Choi Yuen New Village, family members encountered distrust and inconsistency and some families were broken as a result. 2) The local residents engaged in a dispute over the land ownership of Choi Yuen New Village. 3) As a result of the land dispute, the construction work could not be completed before the land clearance was concluded at the original Choi Yuen Village in February 2011.4) People who moved to the New Choi Yuen Village protested again because of the poor infrastructures like roads and electricity.
Sources and Materials

[9] Progress of the Hong Kong Section of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, Legislative Council Panel on Transport, Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways, 2009-09-17, CB(1)2582/08-09(01).


[5] Lam, Y. C. (2015). Choi Yuen village land resumption and anti-express rail link movement in Hong Kong: a study of new social movements (Doctoral dissertation). pp.69-73.

[8] Lam, Y. C. (2015). Choi Yuen village land resumption and anti-express rail link movement in Hong Kong: a study of new social movements (Doctoral dissertation). pp.80-81.


[2]Lam, Y. C. (2015). Choi Yuen village land resumption and anti-express rail link movement in Hong Kong: a study of new social movements (Doctoral dissertation). p.68.


[12]South China Morning Post. ‘Farm experiment born of Hong Kong express railway protest reaps rewards’ 2015-01-16
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[13]起足5年未完工 菜園新村首辦導賞團
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[14]The Hong Kong Institute of Land Administration (HKILA): A Review of the Approach in Land Acquisition of Choi Yuen Tsuen (CYT) for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) (Hong Kong Section) Project, and Recommendations for A Possible and Reasonable Approach in Land Acquisition in Future Government Projects
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[4]李俊妮, (2009). 「溫柔的尊嚴──菜園「村長珍」﹝石崗菜園村口述歷史計劃﹞」 , InMedia
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[1]Wikipedia: The Choi Yuen Village Case
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[7]Hong Kong Express Rail Link controversy
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[11]‘Discuss the XRL in the City’ 「『城』中熱話廣深港同樂日」 Event on 2009-10-03
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[6]朱 凱 迪 , (2009). 「規 劃 師 : 非 原 居 民 不 應 是 廉 價 的 犧 牲 品 」 , InMedia.
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Media Links

‘Happily Declining the Dissatisfactory XRL’ (高高燢興唱低高鐵音樂會) Event on 2009-12-09
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‘Support the Effort by Enjoying the Mid-autumn Festival at Choi Yuen Village’《用溫柔支持抗爭 去菜園村過中秋》 Event on 2009-10-01
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Choi Yuen Village 15:40 min. (Engl.)

Martin Krenn, 2009
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Published on 10 Feb 2012

Choi Yuen Village 15:40 min. (Engl.)

Martin Krenn, 2009
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Other Documents

Oppose the destruction of the five-hundred thousand square feet avian forest
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Save my homeland, preserve mother nature Councilors with care, government without pity
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The government and CLP are passing the buck Houses without electricity in Choi Yuen New Village
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Ascetic-style walk
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No Relocate No Removing Defend villagers' right of abode
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Musical Festival in the village
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Tsan Yam Kuen you ought to listen, to familiarize yourself with how people earn their livelihood Shek Kong Choi Yuen Village has been lived in for fifty years/ Shek Kong farmland is no hay, Shek Kong farmland is a pearl/ We must care for our roots, not be uprooted/ Choi Yuen Village cannot be demolished, the natural river must not be allowed to vanish
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ContributorEnvJustice, ICTA-UAB
Last update21/07/2017