Remarks by Consul General Tong at U.S. Independence Day Reception in Macau

Consul General Tong toasted with Secretary Lionel Leong.
Consul General Tong toasted with Secretary Lionel Leong. (State Dept.)
Consul General Tong toasted with Secretary Lionel Leong.

Remarks by U.S. Consul General Kurt W. Tong
at the U.S. Independence Day Reception in Macau

June 25, 2019

(As prepared for delivery)

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure to welcome you tonight to celebrate America’s birthday.

I particularly want to thank Secretary Lionel Leong for joining us today as Guest of Honor. It is indeed an honor to have you here, Mr. Secretary. Thank you very much.

We are also honored by the presence of other officials from the government of the Macau SAR and from the Central Government. Thank you so much for joining.

I would also like to thank our many corporate sponsors who helped make this event possible. And thank you to the staff at the MGM Macau for making such fine arrangements.

Mika and I will depart Hong Kong and Macau in another week, to move back to the United States. While we are happy to be moving closer to our children, we are sad to be leaving all you fine people behind.

Visiting Macau and learning about Macau and its history and its future has been one of the highlights of our time here. I have now come across the Pearl River Estuary close to forty times, but each visit has brought new insights and an even deeper appreciation of the excellent society that you people and your predecessors have built here on Macau, Taipa and Coloane.

This year is the United States’ 243rd anniversary, and we Americans are rightly proud of our history. But Macau is older than any American city.

My staff members are very familiar with my interest in studying history. And I find Macau particularly interesting.

I have learned about Macau’s “first golden age” starting in the late 16th Century when its port was a key link in the chain of Portuguese trading outposts stretching from India to Japan.

I have also learned about Macau’s “second golden age” starting in the late 18th Century, when Macau was the main focal point for Europe’s expanding trade and diplomacy with China. It was at that point that America first became involved, and we even for a short time had U.S. Consuls stationed here in addition to Hong Kong.

You may have heard me say before that what the world is witnessing these days in Macau should be called the “Macau Miracle.”

Looked at in terms of its history, another way of expressing this is to say that Macau is now actually entering its “third golden age.” This “golden age” is based on Macau’s prowess in tourism and entertainment, of course bolstered by gaming. It is also based on Macau’s unique role as the Asian nexus for Lusophone societies to connect and share development experiences.

I am confident that the future is bright for Macau’s “third golden age.” With good leadership, there is no limit to how much this city and society can continue to succeed.

As part of that success, I am also particularly happy that U.S. companies are also making such an important contribution to the growth and diversification of Macau’s economy. U.S. investment in Macau over the past decade is estimated at much more than U.S. $20 billion. I think is especially notable that U.S. firms are steadily reinvesting their profits in the city.

Going forward, I also believe that the Greater Bay Area Initiative has the potential to create many more opportunities in Macau and the surrounding area. There is a wide range of exciting business opportunities for U.S. firms, Macau firms and Mainland China firms, as the Pearl River region’s economic integration accelerates.

In this regard, I want to give special recognition to the American Chamber of Commerce in Macau. I believe that AmCham Macau will play an important role in these developments.

I also know that U.S. companies and organizations back home are taking notice of the positive developments taking place in Macau and the Greater Bay Area, and they are eager to learn more. There seems to be particular potential in areas such as clean energy and medical services. We are also keen to foster deeper cooperation between the United States and Macau in higher education.

Higher education, in fact, is an area with real growth potential for the relationship between the United States and Macau.

This year, the Consulate sponsored six Fulbright English Teaching Assistants at Macau Polytechnic Institute. I was happy to see them at the AmCham Ball, and to host them for Thanksgiving dinner.

Tonight, in addition, we are especially happy to welcome the two winners of our Consulate General’s scholarship to attend a prestigious summer program in the United States. Alexis Ma and Angel Au are here with their family and friends tonight. They will attend a summer program at Syracuse University in New York, hosted by our “EducationUSA” program. Let’s give Alexis and Angel a big round of applause!

Ladies and gentlemen: As you may know, there are about 5,000 American citizens living in Macau who contribute to Macau society in business, in the arts, and in charitable works. Even as I leave my position, I pledge that our Consulate General will continue to support them, including by holding our monthly American Citizen Services Day to provide services to our people living and working in Macau.

Our Consulate team actually enjoys a variety of engagement here, with members of my team making regular visits. For example, we enjoy excellent law enforcement cooperation with Macau, to our mutual benefit.

Recently, I was pleased to see one excellent result of such cooperation, when my government’s annual assessment of Macau’s work on trafficking-in-persons issues recognized Macau’s efforts with an improved evaluation.

So, ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, there are many promising and productive facets to the U.S.-Macau relationship, today and looking forward.

Mika and I will fly off to Washington next week to begin new adventures. But Macau will occupy a very special place in our hearts and memories.

In fact, I hope that I may come back again soon, in a different capacity.

Until then, take care and good fortune.