Your Honourable, Minister James Flaherty,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I warmly welcome all of you to join us on this special occasion. I feel greatly honored to have with us the Hon. James Flaherty, Minister of Finance, and a number of distinguished guests including members of the parliament and government officials, business leaders from both the public and private sector, as well as my colleagues from the diplomatic corps. I am also delighted to welcome our friends who come all the way from Toronto, Mr. Bassanio So and Mr. Francis Hoe from the Hong Kong Trade and Economic Office. And last but not least, many of our dear old friends in Ottawa, Chinese and Canadians alike. Tonight we are here for one reason-Hong Kong.
The first of July this year will be a red-letter day for China as a nation, and Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region. Ten years ago, Hong Kong bade farewell to nearly one and a half centuries of colonial rule, to the cheers of its motherland and the 1.3 billion Chinese people.
Hong Kong- the strengths that remains
There were once serious concerns and doubts about Hong Kong's destiny when it returned to China. But the course of the last decade has proved them unnecessary. Under the "One Country, Two Systems" policy, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy and maintained its stability and prosperity. We still remember when the SAR government was in its infancy, we saw the onslaught of Asian Financial Crisis, which essentially brought down the economy of much of South East Asia, but Hong Kong stood. Then we saw the outbreak of bird flu and the SARS epidemic, but Hong Kong emerged unscathed. And we saw increasing competition from cities on the mainland of China and elsewhere, but Hong Kong grows only stronger. Its economy ranks among the world's freest and most robust, and by far the most advanced among the Asian Tigers. Hong Kong has cemented its unique position as an international financial, trade, and shipping hub in Asia. And the freedoms, lifestyle, social and economic systems remain a vital and integral part of their everyday lives. Hong Kong's success story owes a lot to the entrepreneurial spirit and can-do attitude of the Hong Kong people. It also underpins a proud fact that the brilliant and bold concept of "One Country, Two Systems" initiated by Mr. Deng Xiaoping has grown from an untested vision into a successful and living reality.
Prospering with the Motherland
Behind this booming and dynamic development of Hong Kong, there stands a united and prospering motherland, providing strong support and assistance at all times. The Central Government is committed to its promised paradigm of "One Country, Two Systems", under which the people of Hong Kong govern their own affairs with a high degree of autonomy. And acting in strict accordance with the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR, the Central Government has been with the SAR government in every step of its growth, helping ensure stability and prosperity sit on top of the agenda and deliver real benefits to the local people. Moreover, the mainland's unprecedented economic boom and a rapidly expanding domestic market of 1.3 billion have also generated a renewed interest in Hong Kong. With Hong Kong's traditional strength in its legal and financial framework, abundant professional expertise and an international outlook, Hong Kong has been an increasingly important gateway both to and from the immense Chinese market. The signing of the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement further provided strong impetus to Hong Kong's economic growth by greatly facilitating the flow of capital, goods, and people.
Hong Kong's role in China-Canada relations
When talking about the development of China-Canada relations, Hong Kong's role is both critical and indispensable. Today, over 250,000 people in Hong Kong are Canadian citizens-that's more than three percent of the population. And over 400,000 people from Hong Kong live in Canada today, working actively in every part of the society, from parliamentarians to lawyers, from university professors to restaurant owners, shaping Canadian life in ways large and small, and contributing to the growth, strength and diversity of this nation. As the Chinese Ambassador, I wish to pay tribute to what they have done over the years to forge a closer and stronger relationship between our two countries.
Hong Kong is now taking bold and confident steps towards its vision to be Asia's "world city", and we are convinced that this Pearl of the Orient will do even better in the next 10, 20 or 50 years, proving that Hong Kong can do better, and China can do better.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I propose a toast,
To a better tomorrow for Hong Kong,
To the happiness and prosperity of all Chinese and Canadians,
To the health of every one in the room,