At a gala black-tie ceremony last Friday, acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen officially opened the 2001 Austcham ANZ Business Awards before hundreds of guests and nominees during a three-hour dinner event to salute the best of Australian business in Greater China. Appearing on a stage flanked by two huge video screens, Mr Tsang light-heartedly referred to the awards as the 'Aussie Oscars' before launching into a speech that praised the achievements of the Australian business community and the partnership with Hong Kong as a gateway to the mainland. 'Australian statistics show Hong Kong as your fourth-largest source of foreign investment, with a total value of around A$20 billion (HK$79.3 billion),' Mr Tsang said. 'On the other side of the coin, Hong Kong is ranked as Australia's fifth-largest source of investment, with a total value of A$12.5 billion. Hong Kong also remains an important entrepot for trade between Australia and mainland China. 'And I believe this gateway role will become more important and pronounced once China enters the World Trade Organisation, both in terms of trade in goods and services, but particularly services. Hong Kong provides the perfect platform for Australian businesses looking for an entry into the mainland. 'Now I know that some of you will want to go it alone and already have, and that's great. But the mainland market can be a bit daunting for a newcomer, or a smaller enterprise, and that is where Hong Kong's particular value lies. We not only have the links of language and culture that are so important to business success in China. We have decades of experience in dealing with mainland partners. 'Hong Kong's entrepreneurs are, in fact, the biggest investors in every mainland province. That type of experience and range of contacts cannot be replicated anywhere else.' Of the 80 nominations, 36 are based in Hong Kong, 34 in Australia, 10 in China, and one in Taiwan. Austcham director Chris Rees said the high number of submissions was impressive, considering the tough economic climate of the past year. 'Every single one of them has made great strides during the year, showing that when the going gets tough, Aussie business gets going,' Mr Rees said. A notable feature of the evening was the use of pre-recorded video to introduce the finalists. Bloomberg Television Hong Kong anchor Douglas Carr hosted the event in a programme that included a pre-recorded award dedication by Jackie Chan from a film location in Ireland. High technology company Cochlear received the coveted Business Excellence Award for a hearing implant system that enables hearing-impaired people to perceive most environmental sounds and speech. Cochlear's North East Asia area manager Leo Chan said the device was designed mainly to help hearing-impaired people gain access to education and integrate into society. Alternative media and marketing company Mailman, and its postmaster-general Kirk Jobsz, won the Business Entrepreneurial Award. The firm, which has offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, was praised for its creativity, passion and drive. Hayco Manufacturing received the Business Innovation Award, which was accepted by CEO and president Donald Hay. Established in Hong Kong in 1993, Hayco employs more than 2,000 people in China in the manufacture of household cleaning brushes, barbecue and garden tools, and fabric products. Presenter Elmer Funke-Krupper of ANZ Bank said: 'Innovation is about thinking outside the square, looking for smarter ways to operate, having the courage to run with a new idea, and is crucial for success in business and is the lifeblood of future earnings and profits.' Jackie Chan presented the Business Promotion award via pre-recorded video to Lin & Zheng Trading, in recognition of their promotion and sales of Australian health product Nu-Lax, a 100 per cent natural fruit dietary aid distributed to more than 20 cities in China. CSR Readymix Company received a special environmental commendation. The firm has implemented a wide range of environmental measures in the mainland, including a quarry remedial programme under which more than 400,000 trees were planted in Ji County. Peter Richardson of lead sponsor ANZ Bank said the awards attracted a diverse range of companies from across the region.