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Oscar Ho Hing-kay

TRADITIONALLY, THE CHINESE believe that true wealth must be accompanied by culture, and so, as our nation has become richer, we have in recent decades seen the cosmetic masking of affluence. It is noteworthy that among the most active supporters of new art spaces in China today are real estate developers. There is even a specific category of property, “arts real estate,” that reflects the role of culture in creating value. This is not to say that the relationship is entirely harmonious. Though real estate agents frequently use the presence of an art gallery in a building to advertise luxury apartments—interweaving wealth with cultural elitism in a single business deal—a recent demonstration against the redevelopment of the artists’ village Caochangdi in Beijing makes it clear that tensions do exist.

An object lesson of sorts for these issues arose in 2006, when the Hong Kong government

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