Two decades have passed since the British relinquished control of Hong Kong and passed it over to China – and Brooklyn’s Chinese population couldn’t be prouder.
This pride was on display last Friday when the American Chinese Commerce Association (ACCA) held a banquet at the Golden Imperial Palace, 618 62nd Street in Sunset Park, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s reacquisition by China.
Among the speakers in attendance were Director of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office Steve Barclay, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook), State Assemblyman William Colton (D-Bensonhurst, Bath Beach), and Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens), all of whom saw the milestone as a mark of pride for Brooklyn’s Chinese-Americans.
“It’s a great pleasure to be here this evening, to join your celebrations,” said Barclay. “I look forward to plenty of more years of growth, cooperation, and the growing strength of Hong Kong, and the People’s Republic of China.”
Attendees were treated to a several-course meal of authentic Chinese cuisine, as well as an evening of entertainment that included musical performances (both choral and instrumental) and a short film providing a summary of Hong Kong’s history.
In 1898, the United Kingdom signed a lease with China that would entitle them to control of the Hong Kong territory for 99 years. During that time, the region developed, prospered and grew into one of the British Empire’s most vibrant trading posts.
This came to an end in 1997, when the lease expired and the United Kingdom saw no practical reason to hang onto the territory. As such, the region fell under Chinese rule once again.
Since that time, said Barclay, Hong Kong has maintained the capitalist system it adopted under British rule, and today it stands as a truly unique sociopolitical entity: a synthesis between Eastern culture and Western economics.
“The deal that was reached was all about preserving the capitalist spirit of Hong Kong,” said Barclay.
Ortiz was proud to say that he personally bore witness to the beginning of that transformation.
“Back in 1997, I visited Hong Kong when Hong Kong was transferred to China,” said Ortiz. “And I also visited Hong Kong three months before, in 1996. So I had an opportunity to see both sides, and it’s a great honor for me to be here with all of you.”
But the event was more than just a commemoration of a twenty-year milestone. As Gonzalez pointed out, it was also a recognition of the contributions of Brooklyn’s Hong Kong-born artisans and businesspeople, who were able to settle and prosper in the borough with the aid of the ACCA.
“I want to say that, on behalf of the residents of Brooklyn, I applaud your significant accomplishments and your steadfast efforts in improving the well-being and prosperity of thousands of Chinese families who have relocated to Brooklyn from China,” said Gonzalez. “As your DA, my job is to make sure that the community is safe… and business is a good way of making the community safe, by giving prosperity and jobs. So together we’ll make Brooklyn the great place it is.”