The newly-appointed US Consul General in Hong Kong Joseph Donovan said Wednesday that the US values its ties with Hong Kong as Hong Kong's success is important to the US.
"What makes Hong Kong important to the US? It's a combination of factors. And these factors are also the key to Hong Kong's well- deserved reputation as a vibrant and dynamic, open society," said Donovan while presenting a public lecture in the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
"Hong Kong's commitment to free markets, its free press, its independent judiciary, and its respect for individual and human rights, make Hong Kong's continued success important to the United States," he said.
As the second largest financial market in Asia, Hong Kong has an important stake in restoring global financial and economic stability, he said.
But Hong Kong is not only important in times of crisis. Hong Kong is also a great place for the Americans to live and to do business, the consul general noted, citing a number of statistics.
Currently, 60,000 US citizens live in Hong Kong and one million more Americans visit Hong Kong each year.
US investments in Hong Kong total about US$47 billion. Some 1,100 US firms are registered here, and they employ approximately 10 percent of Hong Kong's total workforce. In turn, Hong Kong companies currently hold US$3.2 billion of investments in the US.
Hong Kong is the US' 14th largest export market for goods and services.This year Hong Kong will import some US$1.2 billion worth of US food products, making Hong Kong its seventh largest food products market and its third fastest growing market.
"So, Hong Kong's continued economic success means jobs for Americans, thus contributing to America's economic prosperity," he said.
In another area, Hong Kong's independent judiciary and its reliance on rule of law facilitate US cooperation with Hong Kong to combat global terrorism and transnational crime, he said, citing a number of successful US-Hong Kong cooperation in the sectors, including ensuring the safety of visitors to the Equestrian Events of the Beijing Olympic Games.
The consul general said such cooperation also extends to the fields of public health, environmental protection and education.
"In the area of education, there is a close relationship between the US and Hong Kong," he said.
There are about 8,000 Hong Kong undergraduate and graduate students now studying in American colleges and universities, making this city of seven million the fifteenth largest worldwide source of international students to the US.
Americans have a large presence among Hong Kong's university faculties and administrations. Every year there are about 1,000 American students studying at Hong Kong's various universities.
Underpinning this all is Hong Kong's status as a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, with a high degree of autonomy, as stipulated by the Basic Law, he said.
"We are strong supporters of one country, two systems and the Basic Law because it allows Hong Kong to maintain a legal system which binds citizens and governments alike, which is administered by an independent judiciary," said Donovan.
Freedom, competition, and individual choice are part of what makes Hong Kong such a vibrant and dynamic place and that is why the United States needs a successful Hong Kong, he noted.
"We value our ties to a Hong Kong that is part of a prosperous, stable, and confident China, and which contributes to its country and the world by continuing to be a leading light in economic freedoms, civil liberties and respect for human rights," he said.
"While we wait for the new US administration to take office on January 20, rest assured that there is a broad, longstanding, bipartisan consensus in Washington on the value of our relationship with Hong Kong," he noted.
(Xinhua News Agency November 20, 2008)