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HK 10 Years > Life

Horse-racing, stocks keeps vitality in HK

Horse-racing and stocks, two greatest attraction magnets for Hong Kong people, have kept their vitality after Hong Kong returned to the motherland 10 years ago.

When talking about the lifestyle of Hong Kong in the 1980s during negotiations between China and Britain over Hong Kong's return to the Chinese motherland, Deng said Hong Kong people could continue their horse-racing and stocks exchanges.

"Hong Kong people can go on horse racing is a promise that visualizes part of Hong Kong people's life," said Kim Kin-wah Mak, executive director of the corporate development department of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, referring to the well-known remarks by late Deng Xiaoping amid celebration preparations for the upcoming 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China.

"Hong Kong people's love for horse racing has never changed for the past 10 years," Mak said, "Deng's promise to keep the lifestyle in Hong Kong intact has been upheld."

To put it more specific, horse racing has not only continued to thrill Hong Kong people since Hong Kong's return to China, but has grown with the support of the central government and eager horse racing bidders.

During the race season, many race fans in Hong Kong can be seen burying their heads in newspapers at teahouses studying the odds for their favorable horses.

Horse racing days are held in two racecourses at Happy Valley and Sha Tin on most Wednesdays and weekends from September to June, attracting about 1.2 million race goers each racing day, according to the Jockey Club's statistics.

The club's betting turnover has already exceeded 16.3 billion HK dollars (2.1 billion U.S. dollars) every fiscal year, contributing 1.3 percent to Hong Kong's gross domestic product and10 percent of the special administrative region government's tax revenue.

As one of Hong Kong's top 10 employers, the Jockey Club currently employs more than 5,000 full-time workers and 20,000 part-time staff on race days.

A major entertainer for Hong Kong people, the Jockey club also serves as the city's largest charity organization with its charity donation exceeding 10 billion HK dollars (1.3 billion U.S. dollars) during the past years.

Since Hong Kong returned to China in 1997, stock markets, another attraction magnet for Hong Kong people, also keeps its vitality after tiding over challenge in the wake of the Asian financial crisis and the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

The benchmark Hang Seng Index, a barometer for Hong Kong's economy, has already surpassed 21,000 level in June of 2007 from 15,196 level in July 1997, with the entire market capitalization totaling more than 1.5 trillion HK dollars (1,923 billion U.S. dollars).

The H shares, which reflect performance of Chinese mainland state-owned enterprises listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, also skyrocketed near 12,000 level in June 2007 from 1,015 level at the end of June in 1997.

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