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Not long after Tom Yam returned to his native Hong Kong after 40 years abroad, he picked Lantau Island to settle in, drawn to its laid-back villages, wooded trails and scenic beaches that seemed a world away from the bustle of the city.

That may be about to change with a plan to build artificial islands off Lantau to ease congestion in Hong Kong, ranked as the world’s least affordable housing market for a ninth year by the U.S. research firm Demographia.

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