What impression do you get of Hong Kong’s boundaries? Apart from geography, what else are boundaries about? Would you associate boundaries with different sound?

When I was small, I would go to the Frontier Closed Area [1] at weekends to play at my grandma’s place in Chuk Yuen Village, Ta Kwu Ling. I always monkeyed around the fields nearby. That was back in the 90s. In the evening, I often heard flocks of birds twittering ebulliently to announce the fall of night. It meant dinner time was coming and I would have to wait until next weekend to revisit grandma. When I hear birds twitter now, my childhood moments in Chuk Yuen Village emerge in my mind at times.

Retrieving my childhood memories related to Chuk Yuen Village, I bring to mind the rustling sound made by the wind in an abandoned field. Sometimes, I could hear the symphony of the insects. There were a few villages in the neighbourhood, where pet dogs from every house would bark noisily at strangers passing by. The cacophony of the domestic animals in nearby pigsties and chicken farms was echoed between the valleys from time to time. There were mountain and rivers. There was a thin layer of wire fencing too; the noise of piling and car horns came from the other side constantly at an indistinguishable distance.

In the past, the livelihood of people in Chuk Yuen Village depended largely on agriculture. My grandparents, maternal aunt and mother were no exception. In the 80s, flooding damaged Chuk Yuen Village, which was near Shenzhen River. Thus, the village was relocated to an area further from the River. In the 90s, villagers who used to practise agriculture mainly turned to other industries. Most of their offspring worked in the city and some of the farmlands in the village were deserted successively. In 2014, since the Government constructed the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point and its related roads [2], Chuk Yuen Village was once again relocated to Chuk Yuen Village Resite Area. The village houses in the village were standardised as a three-storey structure. The surrounding farmlands were mostly resumed for construction; they turned into construction sites in the blink of an eye.

The Frontier Closed Area has been set up for over 60 years. As the relationship between Hong Kong and China reshapes over time, the role of the boundary has gradually changed. For the recent few times I returned to Chuk Yuen Village, I discovered that various sounds were expanding and some were disappearing. Once heavily guarded and highly restricted, the Frontier Closed Area has now become an area actively developed by the Government [3].

‘Boundary Listening” looks into the experiences brought to humans by the changes of a place. We use our ears to perceive the stories of people living along the boundaries of Hong Kong and the specific boundaries of farming villages. Close your eyes and the boundaries become less tangible than when you look at them. Listen carefully and you get closer to a series of continuous and subtle changes. Yet, these changes are certainly not limited to the boundary areas. This feature story stems from the interview with my maternal aunt and mother. Both of them grew up in Chuk Yuen Village and had been doing farm work for a long time. They are witnesses to the transformation of the village and the boundaries. By looking into what my family has gone through, I explore the various sounds related to boundaries.

The sound recordings are transformed into graphics, as inspired by Samson Young’s work Liquid Borders [4]. Thank you, Samson.

[1] The Frontier Closed Area (FCA) between Hong Kong and China was set up by the Hong Kong Government under the Public Order Ordinance in 1951 for security and defence purposes. People entering or leaving FCA must present a Closed Area Permit. On 15 February 2012, the HKSAR started to reduce the size of FCA in stages. The final FCA reduction exercise was completed on 4 January 2016. Currently, only the boundary patrol road and the sea areas near the boundary belong to FCA.

[2] The affected area resulted from the construction project at the boundary control point building and the associated roads is indicated clearly in the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point and Associated Works Environmental Impact Assessment Report (p. 17) by the Civil Engineering and Development Department, HKSAR.

[3] In 2006, the Hong Kong Government and the Shenzhen Government began to research on the construction at Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point. The project started in 2013. In the “Hong Kong 2030” study released in 2007, the concept of boundary area development is included in the section about Hong Kong’s boundary.

The conceptual framework for New Territories North in the “Hong Kong 2030+” study released in late 2016 indicates the Government’s intention to develop new towns and logistics facilities at the boundary crossings.

[4] Artist Samson Young researched on and made Liquid Borders at the Frontier Closed Area in the North part of Hong Kong between 2012 and 2014. He collected the sounds that form the audio divide separating Hong Kong and the Mainland and presented them through different medium (sound, drawings, text and archives).
Project website









[2] 香港特別行政區土力工程拓展署有關興建蓮塘/香園圍口岸及相關工程之環境影響評估研究(第17頁)清楚指出口岸大樓及相關道路的建築工程所影響的範圍。

[3] 2006年,香港政府與深圳政府開始研究興建蓮塘/香園圍口岸,工程於2013年動工。而於2007年公佈的「香港2030」研究中有關香港邊境的部份,亦有發展邊境地區的構思。


[4] 藝術家楊嘉輝於2012至2014年在香港北部的邊境禁區進行《暴力邊界》計劃,收集中港邊境線上隔離物的聲音,並以不同媒介(聲音、畫作、文本及檔案)呈現作品。