Consul General Kurt Tong’s Remarks at a Reception to Celebrate the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong’s 50th Anniversary
The Rotunda, Exchange Square
March 22, 2019
First of all, I want to say congratulations to the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.
I think you know this, but let’s make it official: You’re the best American Chamber in the world! I actually believe that’s true (applause).
We [at the Consulate] were thinking about the past 50 years, that over 50 years, some things have happened: trade between the United States and Hong Kong went from about US$8 billion to about US$65 billion – pretty good! Investment from the United States into Hong Kong went from US$5 billion to over US$80 billion. You guys did that. That’s you. That’s on you.
I also think you should look out the window and think about this city, and think about how much has changed over those 50 years – how much growth there’s been and how much success there’s been in the development of Hong Kong – and give yourselves a round of applause for that, because I think you helped do that too.
I know you’ve heard this before, but by recent count, there are over 100,000 people in Hong Kong working for American companies. And those 100,000 employees are among the most happy employees in Hong Kong. This is a documented fact. We have data to prove this; it’s true. It’s because you all are good employers.
You are also making very important contributions to the kind of things the U.S. Government has been working on, and I want to thank you for that. Because what the American Chamber of Commerce is doing, and American companies are doing in Hong Kong, is building the relationship across the Pacific between the world’s two largest economies. It’s not an easy relationship, but it’s of absolutely critical importance. The American Chamber of Commerce and your companies are all engaged in making that happen.
Now recently, in fact today, the State Department put out a report about Hong Kong. You might hear about that over the weekend, you might read about it in the newspapers. There are some things in that report that are a little bit critical about Hong Kong. But the point I want to make to you all – and I think this is something you share – is that report and those comments are delivered out of love. Right? You see the badge? America loves Hong Kong.
Because we do. We want Hong Kong to be a success. We want it to be “business as usual.” We love Hong Kong because it has rule of law, it has an independent judiciary, it has a sense of fair play, it has freedom of expression… in addition to having really good wine, good food, and a lot of great people.
So, from that perspective, please realize that we are working together to send a message to the city, and the world, that Hong Kong matters. It’s here. It’s going to continue to make a difference. You’re here. You’re going to continue to make a difference — shaping the region, shaping the U.S.-China relationship, and hopefully, all of you at least (not me), making a lot of money. Very important.
So, the 50th anniversary… this past year we had the 175th anniversary of our Consulate. That helped us realize Hong Kong is all about commerce. We’re all about commerce. Together, I think we’re building very, very important relationships. And, again, you are at the center of all this. The absolute center. Not just the center of [this stock exchange], but the center of an absolutely important business set of relationships to forge [going] forward.
So, congratulations to AmCham on your 50th anniversary. It’s a big deal. When I’m 50, I’m going to be excited too (laughter).
Congratulations, AmCham and thank you very much.