Following is the speech (English only) by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, at a gala dinner cum performance of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra Ensemble in Berlin today (October 27, Germany time):
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here in Berlin tonight, one of Europe's great capital cities, a showcase for Germany's history of economic development, cultural achievements and, for the city itself, its re-birth as the country's capital. Once a symbol of cold war division, Berlin today is a link between Western and Eastern Europe, with the city lying at the heart of an expanding European Union.
Hong Kong is also a city where East meets West, a crossroads of capitalism, culture, commerce and communications: a city that has made its mark as the most strategic two-way platform for doing business in the massive China market; a city that is home to many famous German companies and where bilateral trade flourishes.
Those who know a little about Hong Kong probably see a city of gleaming glass skyscrapers, a stunning harbour, bright lights and crowded streets; a city renowned for its business acumen and an economy consistently ranked as the world's freest. Those of you who have visited us will know that we also have some of the best shopping and restaurants in the world.
But look a bit closer and you will see that there is, in fact, much more to those initial impressions. Beneath the bright lights and the hustle and bustle you will find a city with soul. A city that has given life to a vibrant cultural scene which boasts some of the best performing arts groups in Asia from ballet, theatre and music to innovative movie makers.
We are also an open and pluralistic society welcoming people from around the world. Our unique blend of East and West has had a major impact on our culture and arts scene.
That is why tonight I am very proud, as a Hong Kong citizen and a representative of the Hong Kong Government, to have the opportunity to introduce to you some of that drive, ambition and talent through our unique Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, which has delighted audiences in many parts of the world.
From humble beginnings 27 years ago, the orchestra's constant mission has been to promote Chinese music. This is what it does with passion and style, building a repertoire reflecting its cultural roots. This includes both traditional folk music and contemporary full-scale works, extending their repertoire to explore new frontiers in music and experiment with new techniques and styles. The repertoire is in keeping with the ever-changing face of Hong Kong in the 21st century -- Asia's world city.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you will enjoy tonight's performance.
Ends/Thursday, October 28, 2004