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Custom, Land and Livelihood in Rural South ChinaThe Traditional Land Law of Hong Kong's New Territories, 1744-1948$
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Patrick H. Hase

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9789888139088

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888139088.001.0001

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The Customary Land Law

The Customary Land Law

(p.38) (p.39) 2 The Customary Land Law
Custom, Land and Livelihood in Rural South China

Patrick H. Hase

Hong Kong University Press

A form of Customary Land Law, which was at odds with the Imperial Land Law, was practiced in the New Territories. It was an oral system enforced by the villagers and was characterized by the tei pei and tei kwat relationship. The holder of the perpetual rights to the tei pei was allowed to till the land while the tei kwat holder has the right to receive rent-charge. Only the tei kwat holder could register his holding for the land tax. The land tax register was essential to proving a person's native county for the entry of Imperial Examinations. Families might therefore own tei kwat rights to tiny plots of land to ensure that their clan members would become eligible. Under the Customary Law, villagers have the right to use waste land. However, this was curbed by the new British colonial administration. By eradicating the tei pei and tei kwat relationship, the colonial administration reduced the power of the wealthy clans and introduced significant social changes.

Keywords:   Hong Kong, British colonial administration, New Territories, Customary Land Law, Tei pei, Tei kwat, Perpetual Right, Imperial Examinations

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