Eugene Hanratty III, executive director of the Hong Kong Association of Atlanta, celebrated the 10th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty last week in San Francisco.

Mr. Hanratty represents the Washington-based Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in the Southeast and also is serving as president of the National U.S. Hong Kong Business Association for 2006-7.

“With the lead up to the handover ceremony on July 1, 1997, everyone expected Hong Kong would morph into something very different,” he told GlobalAtlanta before leaving for San Francisco. “But Hong Kong has done well with the idea of one country, two systems.”

Despite the problems faced by the special administrative district since the transfer of power from the United Kingdom, he said that its economy is stronger than ever and it has some 3,800 regional headquarters and offices of foreign companies.

Among the challenges Hong Kong faced since 1997 were two medical crises including the appearance of “bird flu” and the SARS virus. It also endured the Asian financial crisis in 1997-8 when Asian stock markets plunged.

Mr. Hanratty said the district’s strong economic growth rate has maintained its status as “an international financial hub,” while he compared it to Shanghai, which he referred to as “a national financial hub.”

In his capacity as executive director of the association, he said that he serves as “the point of contact” for Southeastern companies that wish to have a presence in Hong Kong.

“We have done a lot to help people to sell their products or to set up joint ventures for manufacturing in China,” he said. “We also help people in China sell in the Southeast.”

In addition to encouraging business links, Mr. Hanratty said that his Atlanta office has raised Hong Kong’s profile in the Southeast through an annual Dragon Boat Festival on Lake Lanier and a film series.

As president of the National U.S. Hong Kong Business Association, he promotes the development of Hong Kong-related business groups throughout the United States.

The National U.S. Hong Kong Business Association has offices in 10 cities including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle.

It held its annual meeting also in San Francisco following the 10th anniversary celebrations.

Mr. Hanratty may be reached by calling (404) 788-8818 or sending an email to