Email this article
Speech by CE at Hong Kong Dinner of "Think Asia, Think Hong Kong" in Chicago (English only) (with photo)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at the Hong Kong Dinner of "Think Asia, Think Hong Kong" in Chicago today (June 10, Chicago time):

Mayor of Chicago Mr Emanuel, Vincent, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening.

     Welcome to the Hong Kong Dinner in Chicago. Chicago is my kind of city - and for so many reasons. Chicago is a global business and financial city. That, of course, is why we're here this week. It's also a city of legends - past, present and in the making. A city of writers and poets, actors, comedians, musicians and, in a few years, President Obama's presidential library.

     Chicago is a city that lives and dies by its sports teams. It's impossible to miss that ringing reality, even if you come from Hong Kong and don't know a baseball bat from a cricket bat, or an ice hockey stick from a field hockey stick. I saw that for myself on a website visit of the Field Museum, our splendid venue for this gala evening. There is a photograph on the museum's website that shows its employees - 40 or 50 in all - sitting and standing for a group portrait. With just one or two exceptions, they're all proudly wearing Chicago Blackhawks jerseys. And if the Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, no doubt, they'll be celebrating with us.

     This evening, we have much to celebrate, beginning with today's "Think Asia, Think Hong Kong". Today's day-long event was, I understand, among the largest Hong Kong promotions ever organised in the United States. It follows on the notable heels of "Think Asia, Think Hong Kong" promotions last June, in New York and Los Angeles.

     Our two economies are coming together, the US and Hong Kong. We have flourishing relationships in business, trade and finance. And, thanks to "Think Asia, Think Hong Kong", I am sure that relations are bound to grow.

     Business aside, we should not forget about people-to-people contacts. This is what matters most in the ties of two places. Tonight I will tell you a few things about our expanding connections.

     Let me start with tourism. Last year, Hong Kong attracted nearly 61 million visitors - 40 million from the Mainland of China. More than 1.1 million from the United States.

     To foster better people-to-people relations, we need connectivity. So we make it easy to come to Hong Kong. More than 100 airlines operate about 1 100 flights every day out of the Hong Kong International Airport. The airport connects to some 180 global destinations, including more than 45 in the Mainland of China.

     Both Cathay Pacific Airways and United Airlines operate direct flights between Hong Kong and Chicago every day. Last August, Cathay added three additional flights a week between our two cities. That's connectivity.

     There will be much more of it down the flight path soon enough. We plan to add a third runway to our international airport by 2023. The three-runway airport will handle about 100 million passengers by 2030, along with some 9 million tonnes of cargo a year - more than double its current capacity.

     When it comes to pleasure, to tourism attractions, Hong Kong happily punches well above its weight. To start with, we have got two world-class theme parks. I'm sure you have heard of Ocean Park, with its fabulous seaside and cliff-side attractions linked by cable car.

     You may also have heard of our other major theme park. And it's called Disneyland, and it turns 10 this year.

     Both parks are expanding, adding hotels and a serious helping of thrills and spills. If you're a Marvel fan, you'll be happy to know that Hong Kong Disneyland is opening an Iron Man theme area next year. And we're in discussions now with Disneyland on its Phase 2 development. Yes, we have only just begun.

     And we have got big plans, not only for Disneyland, but for Lantau - the island that Disneyland calls home. It is Hong Kong's largest outlying island. It accommodates a cable car and a major Buddhist sanctum featuring the 34-metre-high, which is over a hundred feet, majestic bronze statue Tian Tan Buddha. Lantau is also blessed with a long sandy beach and numerous hiking trails.

     Coming up is the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, whose Hong Kong landing point is on Lantau. This bridge is the longest in the world of its kind. Long-term, we see a city, a central business district and a raft of 21st century leisure and entertainment options transforming Lantau.

     The world's cruise ships are now steering a steady course to Hong Kong. We opened our Kai Tak Cruise Terminal two years ago. The terminal, situated at the heart of Victoria Harbour, can welcome the largest cruise vessels afloat.

     The harbour is also the home to the annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. This year's 40th anniversary carnival will be held from July 3 to 5.

     With a Beer Fest happening right next door, they'll have no trouble replenishing their fluids. As for dinner, Hong Kong counts more than 16 000 restaurants - more than half non-Chinese, and more than 60 Michelin-starred.

     Food and wine go hand in hand. We in Hong Kong love our wine. Indeed, since 2008, when we abolished all tariffs on wine, Hong Kong has emerged as Asia's wine trading and distribution hub.

     More than business, wine serves as the lifestyle star of our annual Wine & Dine Festival. California wine, alongside red, white and bubbly from Oregon, New York, Illinois and other US grape havens, may well be on the Wine & Dine Festival menu. After all, Hong Kong imported more than US$57 million worth of US wine in 2014.

     I invite you all to visit Hong Kong. For business or for pleasure. You would find Hong Kong fascinating.

     Ladies and gentlemen, so much for relaxation. Let's talk about something serious - education. Here the ties between Hong Kong and the US are growing as well.

     There's so much collaboration between the US and Hong Kong in higher education. And they are doing well, gaining worldwide recognition. The EMBA programme offered by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, in collaboration with Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, was ranked number two by the Financial Times last year.

     I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the University of Chicago Booth School of Business has topped the Economist's prestigious full-time MBA rankings for four of the last five years. And Chicago Booth is setting up in Hong Kong. Chicago Booth Asia will be the home of the university's Executive MBA Program and other University of Chicago offerings.

     I am not surprised for these top-notch universities coming to Hong Kong. Under the "One Country, Two Systems" arrangement, we are the "super-connector" between the Mainland of China, and that's the rest of China, and the rest of the world. And it's not just about business. Education and research institutions, universities, etc, find Hong Kong the perfect place to start their Asian or Chinese venture. They know that, when they are in Hong Kong, they are in China. But the fact that we practise the "other system" makes them perfectly comfortable in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, they can find the talents, the expertise, from both Mainland China and the world.

     We maintain preeminent standard for our universities. Classes are taught in English. Academic excellence is assured, with three of Hong Kong's tertiary institutions ranked in the top 50 of QS's 2014/15 World University Rankings.

     And it's not just tertiary education. Our post-secondary institutions today are involved in more than 300 exchange agreements and about 900 research collaboration projects with US institutions.

     Ladies and gentlemen, we are here to celebrate our deepening, broadening and expanding ties, for the US and Hong Kong. I look forward to ever stronger connections for our people.

     And before I turn you over to the Mayor, allow me to deliver this modest message, a request from a friend I just met: "Go Hawks Go!"

     Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, June 11, 2015
Issued at HKT 12:08


Print this page