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Empire State Building lit up for Lunar New Year
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Chinese Consul General in New York, Peng Keyu (central), his wife, and Empire State Building General Manager James T. Connors (right), attend a lighting ceremony on Thursday morning, February 7, 2008.

The Empire State Building (ESB) in New York lit its world-famous tower red and yellow Thursday evening to ring in Lunar New Year, a joyous occasion celebrating the beginning of the calendar year in Asian and Asian-American communities.

"Lighting the Empire State Building is our highest honor, and we are proud that red and yellow hues will illuminate the city sky, spreading our wishes for good fortune in the New Year for all," said ESB General Manager James T. Connors at a lighting ceremony held Thursday morning.

This Lunar New Year rings in the Year of the Rat, a symbol of both good luck and prosperity in China, and the colors red and yellow represent happiness and wealth in Asian culture.

Consul General Keyu Peng, on behalf of the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in New York, presided over the lighting ceremony, pulling a giant light switch to illuminate the red and yellow lights of the building's model.

"Celebrating the most cherished occasions for Asian Americans on the top of the Empire State Building has its unique significance," Peng said. "This event has come to be the embodiment of New York City's recognition of the Asian American's contributions for the country's prosperity, which is also conducive to American people's better understanding of Chinese and Asian traditional culture."

After hailing new progress made in China-U.S. relations over the past year, the Chinese ambassador said that as Beijing Olympic Games is to be held in 2008, "the skyscraper's light of red and yellow colors will add more meaning to American Chinese 2008 Olympic dreams."

Since the year of 2000, with the support of the management of the Empire State Building and the Chinese community in New York, an annual lighting ceremony has been put in place as a custom, which has attracted wide attention throughout Asia and the Asian American community in the United States.

This year's lighting ceremony was launched by the Empire State Building, along with the Chinese consulate, the Asia Society and the Greater Chinatown Community Association.

Soaring more than 380 meters above Midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building is the World's most famous office building. It was recently named America's favorite building in a poll conducted by the American Institute of Architects.
(Xinhua News Agency February 8, 2008)

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