Cheung doesn't oversee Hong Kong Disneyland, which has separate management. But he knows the success of that park as well as Disney's other ventures in China are elements in a marketing strategy that relies on developing brand loyalty based on its characters and stories. That's why Cheung is gleeful about "The Lion King," which is expected to have 100 showings.
Cheung, who has a master's degree in business administration from Indiana University, has made no secret that Disney has been negotiating to build a theme park in Shanghai. Speculation intensified recently after Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng told reporters in Beijing last month that the city was making "preliminary preparations" for a Disney park. Disney executives, though, said there was nothing to announce, reiterating that a second park in China would not be opened before 2010.
Shanghai is eager to have an international attraction for its World Expo in 2010, but Disney has hinted that it wants a Disney Channel first. So far, Cheung and Iger have had no luck in persuading Beijing to approve a 2003 application for a broadcast license.
Last year, Chinese leaders clamped down on foreigners' participation in China's burgeoning media industry, saying they want to preserve China's "cultural security."
"The channel Disney wants will just be impossible, and I expect that in the next several years there is not much possibility," said Yin Hong, director of film and television studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Even working with the Communist Youth League has proved to be a challenge. Disney enlisted the youth arm of the Communist Party to boost the company's Dragon Club, named after a 30-minute Disney cartoon shown on Chinese TV, but they have held few programs together.
Disney's success in China also will hinge on its battle against rampant piracy of Disney videos, clothes and toys.
Cheung has turned to large retailers such as Carrefour, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and some domestic chains to distribute authentic DVDs of its movies and shows. Many of Disney's products now come with a hologram tag, and this summer the company plans a nationwide promotion rewarding repeat buyers of licensed goods.
"The holograms are incredibly difficult to copy," said Ken Chaplin, who heads Disney's consumer products in emerging markets.
Then again, he said, "I'm hesitant to say anything's impossible in China."