By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–In a show of mutual respect and continued alliance the Alabama China Partnership held a reception at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival Theater.
Dignitaries from Alabama and China gathered Tuesday June, 5 to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Governor Robert Bentley was on hand to welcome Donald Tong, Commissioner of Hong Kong, to Alabama at the gathering of around two hundred people.
Several state legislators as well as many mayors were among the guest who enjoyed Asian-American and continental cuisine at the event. Piano music played softly in the background as well-wishers mingled in the lobby of the theater. Lt. Governor Kay Ivey embraced Commissioner Tong and his delegation as did many other government department heads.
Senator Marc Keahey (D-Grove Hill) and State Representative Barry Mask (R-Wetumpka) were both in attendance. They both agreed that Hong Kong was an important partner for Alabama and were delighted to be a part of the celebration.
After an hour of social intermingling a presentation was held to recognize the important relationship between China and Alabama.
During the presentation Commissioner Tong pointed out that Hong Kong has been an important trading partner with Alabama for many years, and the business relationship between the state and Hong Kong continues to grow each year.
In 2011, Alabama exported $261 million in goods and services to Hong Kong–a ten percent increase over 2010.
“We expect those numbers to continue to grow, and we are very appreciative of the relationship we have with Hong Kong,” Governor Bentley said. “I look forward to building on this relationship, and we are glad to have the Hong Kong delegation visit Alabama to see all the opportunities that this state has to offer.”
Commissioner Tong and Governor Bentley exchanged gift during the presentation ceremony.
Governor Bentley announced that Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield will travel to Hong Kong next week for further discussions with government and business leaders. Canfield will discuss how best to assist Alabama companies expanding globally through the Hong Kong gateway to Asia. Further, Alabama can work with Chinese companies seeking to invest in this state.
“We have already heard from companies that either attended or heard about the Alabama-China Partnership Symposium held in Monroeville, Alabama, this past March,” Secretary Canfield said. “They liked what they saw and what they heard. We will continue to work with them to help develop jobs for Alabama workers.”
At the reception Tuesday evening, Governor Bentley presented a proclamation to Commissioner Tong declaring June 5, 2012, as “Hong Kong–Alabama Day.”
Hong Kong became part of the People’s Republic of China in 1997 but retains its autonomy to govern itself until at least 2047. The United States is Hong Kong’s second-largest trading partner in the world.