Following is the speech (English only) by the HKSAR Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, at the official dinner by the Irish Government cum performance of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra Ensemble, Dublin, on November 1, 2004 (Irish time):
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to be back in Dublin -- a city that has transformed itself in the past decade or so into one of the most vibrant capitals of Europe; a city that is a magnet for investment and the gateway to one of the most beautiful parts of the continent. Indeed, Ireland has embraced the knowledge economy without losing the enchantment that is found not only in your spectacular scenery, but in the warmth and wit of the people.
There are some similarities between Hong Kong and Ireland -- we're both small in size, but our economies are strong in services. And we are successfully meeting and capitalising on the challenges of the 21st century by being at the forefront of the development of our respective hinterlands.
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 at the crossroads of global trade and investment; a city renowned for its business acumen and an economy consistently ranked as the world's freest; a city that has made its mark as the most strategic two-way platform for doing business in the massive China market. 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 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. Part of our attraction is a unique blend of East and West, and this in itself 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. And it does this 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/Tuesday, November 2, 2004