Consul General Tong 4th of July Macau Speech
Clube Militar, June 23, 2017
Good evening and welcome to our Independence Day celebration for the United States of America.
I want to thank the Honorable Ms. Chan Hoi Fan for being our guest of honor tonight. We are delighted to celebrate our national day with all of you. In doing so, we also celebrate the valuable relationship between the United States and the Macau Special Administrative Region.
We are particularly happy to be hosting the event this year at the beautiful and historic Clube Militar. I understand this year is the 147th anniversary of the club — congratulations to a true Macau institution.
Indeed, Macau has a storied history, and is well-known for the fascinating legacy of Portugal’s centuries-long presence here.
But I doubt that the earliest Silk Road traders, or the fisherman and farmers who came to this peninsula from Guangdong, or even the Portuguese merchants who arrived in the 16th century, attracted by Macau’s port as a crossroads between China, India, Japan and Europe, ever imagined what Macau would become in the future.
Macau’s very name — “Ou Mun,” or “harbor gate” — is a telling sign of Macau’s economic importance even in its earliest days. But today’s Macau has become something of an economic miracle.
I’m in the unique position of being the U.S. representative to two places: Hong Kong and Macau. I live in Hong Kong, but I take every chance I can to come to Macau. I mean it when I say I value our relationship — I’ve been to Macau 15 times since my arrival nine months ago.
At our Consulate, we are very proud that the American business community, with the cooperation and support of the Macau government, has contributed so much to Macau’s economic success. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, in 2016, total bilateral trade in goods was $751 million. U.S. exports to Macau were up 16.5% from 2015, and up 215.6% from 2006. Likewise, Foreign Direct Investment from Macau to the United States was up over 32% from 2014 to 2015, a trend we hope to see increase.
We continue to look for ways to encourage American investment in Macau in diverse areas. There are many opportunities in the food and beverage sector and smart city development — things like urban planning, infrastructure, green building, and smart transportation systems. So our economic relationship is certainly very valuable to both of us, and the future is bright.
But business isn’t the only facet of our relationship.
Visitors to Macau, including me, enjoy taking a step back in time and walking the beautiful colonial streets of Taipa Village.
Macau’s unique heritage and numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, combined with the more modern excitements offered by the gaming industry, delicious Macanese cuisine and world-class restaurants, make Macau a hard place to resist.
Like the United States, Macau is a cultural melting pot.
For that reason, and others, there are important educational and cultural relationships being forged between the U.S. and Macau — although I believe we can do much more.
We proudly sponsor Fulbright scholars and English language teachers to spend time in Macau, and are eager to see more of this type of exchange. We have also been pleased to help bring American artists and writers to participate in cultural events organized in Macau. These initiatives bring people together and introduce the best America and Macau have to offer.
During my 15 crossings to Macau. I have met with counterparts in the Macau government, members of the Legislative Assembly, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attended cultural festivals, and met with key partners like the wonderful leaders of the American Chamber of Commerce.
Members of the Consulate team come here frequently as well, for many of the same reasons: to meet with counterparts on a range of issues, like education, culture, and business, as I’ve already mentioned, but also to promote law enforcement cooperation and to provide consular services to the thousands of American citizens who call Macau home.
In all these areas of cooperation, we rely on the continued friendship and collaboration of everyone in this room. We value that friendship very much.
On this 241st anniversary of our independence, I’d like to propose a toast: to the bright future of the U.S.-Macau relationship and many more years of success together.