H.K. grouses at Mouse

News of Shanghai theme park creates outrage

HONG KONG — News that the Walt Disney Co. may build a theme park in Shanghai has sparked outrage and debate in Hong Kong, where a Disney park is slated for completion in 2006.

News of the deal, signed last month, leaked out late last week. Now legislators are calling for an inquiry into whether Disney — in signing a nonbinding letter of intent with the Shanghai government that could see a park built there by 2008 — breached the $2.8 billion contract signed three years ago.

Gov’t under fire

At the time, opponents of the deal criticized the Hong Kong government for paying too much in order to have Mickey Mouse on their turf. Concerns were also expressed over Disney parks being built elsewhere in China, undermining the future Hong Kong park. Legislators are now questioning if there was a provision in the contract to ensure that a certain amount of time would elapse before a rival park was built, and if not, why not.

The park was considered a victory for Hong Kong, which is vying to become China’s commercial hub over rival Shanghai. Projections for the Hong Kong park predicted a substantial number of its visitors would come from China.

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