Speeches and Remarks
Remarks by Consul General Stephen M. Young at U.S. Independence Day Reception in Hong Kong
July 5, 2012
(As Prepared For Delivery)
Remarks by Consul General Stephen M. Young at U.S. Independence Day Reception, Hong Kong (July 5, 2012)
Secretary and Mrs. Tsang, Ladies and Gentlemen, friends! Good evening!
Barbara and I thank you for joining us and our colleagues in the U.S. Consulate for this celebration of America's 236th birthday!
It has been a busy week here, as Hong Kong has been commemorating the 15th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China, as well as marking the transition to a new government. The United States remains a strong supporter of "One Country, Two Systems," and looks forward to working with Chief Executive C.Y. Leung and his team on our considerable interests here, from promoting business ties to ensuring the wellbeing of our 60,000 U.S. citizens in the SAR.
The fact that you all have come is a testament to the warm relationship between the United States and Hong Kong -- and between our two peoples. The marvelous display of fireworks last Sunday night reminded me of our own American tradition of shooting off fireworks to commemorate our Independence Day. In small towns and big cities across the United States, communities gather on lawns and by the water to enjoy the start of summer and remember the qualities that make our country great.
Another way that Hong Kongers know how to celebrate is with music, and I am pleased that the United States Navy's 7th Fleet Band performed a few days ago for more than 20,000 people in a music festival arranged by the Hong Kong Government to celebrate the handover anniversary. One thing that made that performance special was that our Navy band members played alongside their counterparts in the People's Liberation Army. That's a vivid illustration of the kind of special cultural exchanges that happen in Hong Kong every day.
In a similar way, as you all know, the United States too has a special history of bringing people together. People from around the world are drawn by the freedom they find in the United States to achieve their dreams. Last year, almost 150,000 Hong Kong people visited the United States and we hope that next year, you'll be among them. Later tonight, in fact, we'll play for you a new music video called "Land of Dreams," which expresses that idea through music and images, just to encourage you to come visit us.
When Americans sit outside and enjoy the fireworks show on July 4, for many of us, it is nearly impossible to separate the love we feel for our country from the freedoms it guarantees us. I want to encourage each of you this week as well to think about the special qualities of Hong Kong that make it such a vibrant place that draws people from around the world. In my view, that no doubt includes its freedom of expression and assembly, rule of law, transparent and independent courts, its commitment to democratization, and other rights enshrined in the Basic Law. We commend you all for your success at preserving these special qualities.
With that, may I invite you to join me and Secretary Tsang in raising a toast to the people of the United States and the people of Hong Kong!