06-26-2007 16:29

Special Report:   HK 10 Years

On July 1, 1997, the British handed control of Hong Kong to China.

The Basic Law of Hong Kong mandates the region's economic, social and political systems will not change until 2047 – fifty years after the handover. Since 1997 Hong Kong has remained an international financial hub.

Hong Kong is one of the world's most populated regions. 7 million people live here. 350,000 people, or 5% of the population, are non-Chinese residents. The diverse mix of Chinese and non-Chinese residents makes Hong Kong a dynamic city.

According to the United Nation's “2006 world investment report” Hong Kong attracts the second largest amount of direst investment in Asia, second only to China’s mainland. And in terms of foreign investment Hong Kong ranks sixth in the world.

"We have to be in the middle of the world where things are happening. Asia and especially HK. Asia and HK are together in the middle of the best place of the world for business, I would even say for fashion," says Bertrand Michaud,Managing Director of Asia PacificHermes Greater China Limited.

"A great place to do business. You get so much done. People pay attention. They are smart. They are well informed," says Jack Maisano,President of the American Chamber of Commerce.

"We've worked a lot with our cast. They are very focused on education and quality and learning. Education is the No.1 priority in HK," says Bill Ernest, Executive Vice President of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

"It's magical. There are not many cities in the world that have the energy that comes into this one place. Hong Kong is a place that moves very, very quickly," said Allan Zeman, Chairman of A Lan Kwai Fong Group Company.

"The business in Hong Kong has been, I guess, easy for everyone. You can open your companies; you can open your own business; you can open your own, like I did, restaurants. Very easy actually. And the government is certainly very supportive, and at the same time, easy to develop," says Gerard Dubois.

After building parks in Tokyo and Paris, Disney chose Hong Kong for its third theme park outside the United States. Since its opening Disneyland has attracted visitors from around the world and an increasing numbers of tourists from China's mainland.

Construction of Hong Kong Disneyland began in 2003 and the park opened just two years later. Bill Earnest is executive vice president, and since taking over Earnest and his staff have tried to adapt to the Chinese market. Most employees are trilingual, and guide maps are printed in Cantonese, mandarin and English. Bill has lived in Hong Kong for four years.


"I think it is very cosmopolitan. I think it is a place where east meets west. I find it just extremely invigorating to be here. It's a vibrant community. It's a vibrant tourism hub, as I mention earlier," says Bill Ernest, Executive Vice President of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

Bill Ernest has worked at Disney since 1994, and he's helping plan the park's future expansion and renovations. Bill gave us a tour and talked about his life here in Asia.