Reply To: Hong Kong Disneyland shark fin soup controversy


Disney has been v quiet re the shark fin issue. Not so Brian Darvell; another update here:

Doubts? Just in case you had any doubts, see it for yourself: stephanie_video.mpg (it is worth waiting for the download, but not if you are squeamish) Mr Chiu Ching-cheung, do you really believe it does not happen? Of course not.

You could also read: at_rock_bottom.pdf and Overwhelming Peter Hughes Diving received an amazing response – over 1200 emails – to their request for support in their efforts to persuade Disney of the error of their ways. See:

How long can Disney continue to ignore such spontaneous calls for common sense and leadership to prevail? Insult to Injury According to an article in today’s SCMP, Disney have signed a contract forbidding at least one franchised restaurant at the park from selling the the soup. This is correctly identified as employing double standards, as if they have not already by selling their green soul for mainland tourist profits. Typically, no sensible comment has been obtained, and everybody’s favourite, Esther Wong, does not return calls.

Mr 57%

I have speculated about the profit motive for Disney, but of course there is something even bigger as a prize to be captured, regardless of environmental cost – mainland Chinese tourists. The HKSAR government spent some HK$2.5 ~ 3 Billion to get Disney into HK at a time when the only thought in their mind was tourism dollars; the loss of revenue from dwindling numbers was acute. They must still be rather keen to see a return on this "investment" in HK’s future (sc. the future profits of those few big wheels who will benefit). With a potential market of 300 million people just across the border, Disney and the HK government could not care less about the environment, conservation or such disposable assets as principles.

Can anybody seriously imagine leaflets being read when the soup is ordered? Is this what passes for an educational effort to justify strutting under a green umbrella? We are not that stupid to think so. Hence, all efforts are focused on getting mainlanders into the territory, spending freely, to finance grandiose schemes in "Asia’s World City" [cough! choke! sneeze!]. We are talking about a market greater than the North American population, a disposable income that Selina Chow would love to see being spent here. Anything that reduces the spending is anathema. And that goes for Disney’s ridiculous position taken regarding smoking as well. Hey kids! Second hand smoke for everyone!! Again, will mainland Chinese come here for a "fairy-tale wedding" (about as far removed from Chinese tradition as it is possible to get) and be worried about shark fin soup not being available? Will they really think they need it? Only if Disney tells them so … and they are.

But how many weddings can there possibly be to warrant this? In comparison with the millions they hope to get through the gates, that has to be a small proportion. If they think that Chinese customers are really so unthinking, inflexible and insensitive then surely they insult them all. If they think that they are so easily conned by a trumped-up, ad man’s dream, face-giving measure, what value do they put on their customers’ intelligence? About as much as they respect our sincere efforts to undo the cynicism and hypocrisy.

In contrast, Friends of Hoi Ha consider that Hong Kong is in danger of being considered a pariah state in environmental terms, where the environment takes second place to profit and where major consignments of endangered species are either consumed or trans-shipped with impunity. If that affects tourist dollars, won’t that be counterproductive, Selina? 3 minutes of Glory Well, hardly, but CNN did run a rather brief live interview with me today (June 21). The topic is being kept in the public eye, globally, and there is a lot of news to compete with. We should all be taking any and every opportunity to nudge, cajole, persuade and convince people that: – shark fin soup is unsustainable – Disney have misjudged their position


Now here’s a thing. We are not supposed to know this, but TVB, one of two "terrestrial" TV operations here, had managed a grand coup in obtaining the rights to show a long list of Disney films, including some well ahead of the normal time when they would be allowed on general broadcast. The schedule included "Finding Nemo" – where sharks are given a PR opportunity to change their image. ‘Nemo" was intended to be shown close to the September 12th opening of the HK Disneyworld, with the obvious link of the prestige of a major recent release. However, some bright bean-counter seems to have got cold feet in the blood of de-finned sharks. TVB, in their sensitive, caring fashion, have rescheduled ‘Nemo’ to a much later time, presumably in an attempt to avoid controversy. Well, it hasn’t worked, has it? I wonder, too, who will be interested in paying for that broadcast with their advertising dollars even then – all of whom will link themselves inextricably with Disney and its cynicism (it rubs off, you know). But guess what is intended now to be shown instead at that crucial and defining moment for hypocrisy and profiteering? – Cinderella. Oh, my, do they not see the irony?

Who will be the prince for our benighted sharks, Mr Eisner, Mr Iger, or Mr Murphy? Curiosity (1) I read on that "We have Chinese celebrities like Michele Yeoh and Jackie Chan who have spoken out against" shark fin soup.

Yet, elsewhere we find: "Favourite delecacy [sic] Shark fin soup" Oh dear.

Curiosity (2) On we read encouraging words from Tony Leung, while on the other channel we read that Tony Leung is a favourite actor of Selina Chow’s Ooops! Does that mean she is cancelling her fan club subscription? Sigh

By the way, also on , at the bottom, we read Administrator Says: June 18th, 2005 at 6:04 pm It is sad in this day and age that such arguments against ecological ignorance are even required. Quite. Coverage The Economist’s Hong Kong Briefing has carried a note (no URL). The Pew Institute is working in South Africa on a shark TV special for CBS "60 minutes" – profiling the Disney situation. I think we should keep an eye out for this one.

WildAid keep track of the press quite well with a compilation newsletter: WildAid Shark News. If you would like to be on this list, drop a brief note to Victor at


But Disney remain distant, aloof, disdaining communication. This is not a matter of who looks away first, a childish staring game. This is deadly serious, and Disney cannot even meet our gaze. What does that say for their case? Not a leg to stand on, I would guess. I still say, Shame on you all. BWD