Good afternoon, Deputy Director Zhou Zhongxuan, Consul General Shin Bongsup, Consul General Peter Kreutzberger, Consul General Hideki Ishizuka, Acting Consul General Bernard Valezy, and dear friends from local foreign affairs offices and distinguished guests from all over Northeast China. Welcome to our 4th of July celebration party! I am very happy to have you all here to celebrate the 241st anniversary of American independence. I would also like to extend a special thank you to all of today’s sponsors. This event would not be possible without your generous contributions, and we thank you for bringing a small taste of America to Northeast China.
As you may know, this is my first chance to celebrate Independence Day in Northeast China. My family and I arrived in Shenyang last summer, and we have been touched by the warm reception we have received every day since. Dongbei Ren are some of the most generous, open hearted, down to earth, and honest people on earth. As my Chinese friends here say 东北这嘎瘩山好，水好，人更好。遍地都是活雷锋! (Dōngběi zhègāda shānhǎo, shuǐhǎo, rén gènghǎo. Biàndì dōushì huó léifēng!)
The United States has a long history in Northeast China. We first opened a consulate in Shenyang in 1904, and have been based at our current consulate since 1984. In May, we broke ground on a new Consular Section that will be located in the Maoye Shopping Center here in Shenyang, and will officially open for business next year. This new expanded consular section will be much larger than our current facility and will allow us to better facilitate trade and tourism between our two great countries. It also represents the United States’ long-term investment in Dongbei, its people, and its future.
In the last year we have transitioned to a new administration, with new personalities and new priorities. Our two presidents met for the first time at Mar-a-Lago in April, where they laid the groundwork for a constructive, results-oriented bilateral relationship. Last week, our new Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, arrived in country. As you may know, Ambassador Branstad and Chinese President Xi Jinping have a friendship that dates back to 1985, when then-Governor Branstad welcomed the future president to the state of Iowa for agricultural exchange. So we are excited for his arrival and we look forward to expanding areas of cooperation on common challenges, which range from creating new business and trade opportunities between our two countries to regional security concerns, such as North Korea.
But today is all about celebrating American independence. There are many reasons to do so, from America’s defense of liberty to our strength in diversity that comes from our melting pot culture.
We celebrate American independence in many ways. We have barbeques, picnics, parades, and fireworks. This year, we are celebrating American movies, which represent the very best the United States has to offer. From Hollywood classics such as Casablanca and Gone with the Wind to modern hits like Moana and the Avengers, the movies you see playing around us are as diverse as our people, our regions, and our history.
The United States and China now represent the world’s two largest movie markets, and a film cannot be a true blockbuster without succeeding in both of our countries. There are more than 40,000 movie screens in China now, up from fewer than 2,000 fifteen years ago – and more are being built every day. Beyond the box office, however, movies help to bring us closer together. For many Chinese people, their first impression of the United States came from our movies, and I remember being a student in Texas and being fascinated by the China that I saw depicted in movies such as Raise the Red Lantern and Farewell My Concubine.
Today, we watch the same movies, often at the same time, and the distance between our two countries grows smaller each time we do so. We are glad to hear that China has begun to relax its restrictions on imports of American movies, and we hope that they will continue to do so in the years ahead.
Today we will be treated to the music of the Shenyang Symphony Orchestra, including some songs made famous in American movies. I would also like to say Aloha to the hula dancers and musicians who will perform a series of Hawaiian cultural performances today. Later on, we will be treated to a demonstration of American football by our very own Shenyang Hunters team. And outside, you’ll also find many examples of American products and American innovation provided by our generous sponsors. It should be a fun-filled, action-packed day, and we thank you for spending it with us. Happy Independence Day everyone!