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COUNTRY PROFILE

ANTONY REEVE-CROOK VISITS HONG KONG AND FINDS THAT FAR FROM BEING OVERSHADOWED BY CHINA'S EXHIBITION INDUSTRY, BOOMING BUSINESS ON THE MAINLAND MEANS ITS STOCK IS RISINGhe arrival of Hong Kong on the landscape of international exhibitions can be attributed, perhaps unsurprisingly, to two major events in China. The Canton Fairs, which still exist today, were established in Guangzhou (formerly Canton) in the Guangdong province in 1957. Taking place every spring and autumn, these huge events provide arguably the most comprehensive offering of any truly international exhibitions and are responsible for linking a numerous and diverse group of exhibitors with a global set of buyers. The exhibitions created countless business leads and generated some of the greatest retail business turnover in China.Reaching the Guangdong province from overseas required a port capable of handling vast numbers of CATCHING THE TRADE WINDS visitors on the way in, and a vast amount of products on the way out. It demanded, and still demands, straightforward and amenable import and export practice, accessibility and - equally importantly - an ability to accommodate and cater for a wide variety of international travellers. Enter Hong Kong. One of two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) belonging to China, alongside its Pearl River Delta neighbour Macau. The city has seven million inhabitants and crucially, around eight per cent of these (570,000 people) hold foreign passports. Both Chinese and English are accepted as offi cial languages here, harking back to the city's British rule until the handover in 1997. The Canton Fairs may still have the space and the volume