Remarks by Consul General Clifford A. Hart, Jr.
Independence Day Reception
MGM Grand Hotel, Macau
June 26, 2015
(As Prepared For Delivery)
Secretary Chan, friends and colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good evening!
Our reception tonight celebrates the two hundred and thirty-ninth year of American independence. Thank you for joining us on this happy occasion.
While we gather to celebrate it, I think it’s also appropriate to pause to reflect on other anniversaries that are significant for all of us who call the Asia-Pacific home. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War, a dreadful struggle that claimed nearly as many American lives as all of the other wars in which we have fought. The consequences were global: only because the Union survived was American power there to confront the Twentieth Century’s tyrannies, was there a continental American economy to power international prosperity, and was our moral voice so strong and persuasive.
We also mark seven decades since the defeat of militarism at the end of the Second World War. Let’s take ourselves to 70 years right now, on June 26, 1945: a deep shadow still lay across Macau. Nobody could have known that peace was merely two months away. My father’s father, a U.S. Navy officer and a slave laborer in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, had no way to know he was just weeks from freedom. Most observers assumed that the war would last another couple of years and cost millions more lives. The end of World War II showcased the resilience of the Asian peoples and the importance of America’s commitment to the region. Had the United States shirked its responsibilities after V-J Day, it is difficult to imagine that Asia as a whole — or the Mainland or Macau in particular — would have reached today’s peace and prosperity. America’s rebalance in the Asia-Pacific today is merely the latest reaffirmation of the United States’ commitment to a vast region it never left.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment, transportation, and other areas. This is a happy anniversary, a watershed in assuring that all people enjoy the same rights and opportunities.
I am proud that my country was the first to pass such comprehensive legislation: fair treatment of our most vulnerable citizens is a fundamental test for all countries that aspire to be regarded as civilized and humane. As we face the work that remains, however, we have every reason to remain humble.
Our great hope must be that the next 70 years will witness at least as much progress. The prospects are good: no other part of the world has seen a comparable transformation in recent decades, and the Asia-Pacific has never in modern times been more important to the world. Critically, China has reemerged as a leading member of the international community. Much rides on its decisions. As we look out over the next 70 years, the United States will remain, as ever, ready to partner with Beijing to promote mutual prosperity and peace and to applaud as China embraces the international obligations that go with power and wealth.
Our productive relationship with Macau exemplifies our broader engagement with Asia. Macau is home to a growing American business community that has helped to transform the SAR’s economy. We value the work of the American Chamber of Commerce, and the leadership of its chairman, Charles Choy, and its chairman emeritus, Paul Tse.
I’d like to thank the many sponsors – both within the American business community and without – whose generous support made this evening possible. I’d like to recognize the superb team of American citizen wardens in Macau. These volunteers play an important role in liaising with the American community, when needed. My gratitude goes out to Linda Switzer, Georgia Creeden, Reggie Martin, and Mark Whitmore for their service to the American community this year.
Thank you, Secretary Chan, for honoring us with your presence tonight. We value our cooperation with you, whether it is on economic and trade issues, cultural exchange and people-to-people ties, or consular issues. Indeed, in just the past two days, Macau has hosted a major international conference looking at ways to protect children from threats, such as abduction. I thank the Macau SAR Government for making this event possible. Ambassador Susan Jacobs, the United States’ top consular official working on children’s issues, is the conference’s keynote speaker.
On that important note of cooperation, please let me propose a toast:
To friendship among the people of Macau, the rest of the People’s Republic of China, and the United States of America!