First UN Leader from China
The election of Dr. Margaret Chan as the Director-General of WHO in November 2006 marks the first time that a Chinese national has headed a United Nations agency.
The 60-year-old woman is known to mainland people for her solid professional background, strong leadership and tremendous experience in public health, for which the Chinese Central Government nominated her and supported her bid.
The former Hong Kong health chief joined the WHO in 2003, and she had been the UN agency's Assistant Director-General for communicable diseases before announcing her campaign for the top post of director-general in July 2006.
As health chief of Hong Kong in 1997, Chan was credited with successfully tackling the first known outbreak of the virulent H5N1 strain of avian influenza by ordering a swift and massive cull of chickens, despite strong opposition to the move.
Chan has stated that her five-year term starting from January 2007 will focus on the health of Africans and women.
A Hong Kong Hero
As Asia's richest and most influential investor, Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing has a fortune valued at $23 billion in Forbes magazine's latest world billionaire rankings, which makes him the ninth richest person in the world. The 79-year-old controls a real estate developer, a cell phone provider, retailers, a major supplier of electricity to Hong Kong and the world's largest operator of container terminals.
Born in Guangdong Province, he fled with his family to Hong Kong in 1940 when Japanese forces launched their invasion of south China during World War II. As a high school drop out, Li had to support his family, including his widowed mother and three younger siblings by doing manual work at the age of 14. Li began his rise in the business world founding a Hong Kong plastics firm and burst onto the public stage in 1979, when he made a deal giving him control of the ailing British-owned conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa.
Li's legions of fans admire his rags-to-riches story, work ethics, soft-spoken business style, business shrewdness and nose for buying and selling at just the right time. Li has further burnished his reputation by becoming perhaps Asia's most prominent philanthropist, who has pledged to donate one third of his wealth to the Li Ka-shing Foundation, a private fund he established purely for charitable purposes. Up to 2001, Shantou University, in Li's hometown in Guangdong and considered a life-time commitment by Li, had received over HK$ 2 billion in donations since its founding in 1981.
Larry Hsien Ping Lang, Chair Professor of Finance at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, began publishing a series of articles in 2004 exposing allegedly flawed management buy-outs (MBOs) during the restructuring of some state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
The U.S.-educated economist argued that private entrepreneurs on the Chinese mainland have depressed the value of state-owned assets to buy them at lower prices. Lang also suggested some SOE managers embezzled state-owned assets via MBO reforms.
The companies under Lang's direct questioning about irregular merger and acquisition deals included Hong Kong-listed Greencool Group and electric appliance giants Haier and TCL. His fierce attacks earned him the nickname "supervisor Lang." Lang went on to condemn the widening wealth gap in China by saying "100 million people becoming better-off has made the other 1.2 billion people even poorer."
Though no official response was directly made to address the problems Lang raised, the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission announced in December 2004 that MBOs could no longer be conducted in large SOEs and issued a series of regulations against irregularities in future MBOs of SOEs.