The European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao lit up the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower on Wednesday in celebration of Europe Day and the office’s 25 years in Hong Kong.

“This symbolic bridge of light is a reminder of the strong friendship between the people of the EU and Hong Kong. We hope it will encourage the people of Hong Kong to learn more about the EU and vice versa,” Jolita Pons, head of the Hong Kong EU Office’s press section, said in a statement.

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Photo: EU Office to Hong Kong and Macao.

The iconic Clock Tower in Tsim Sha Tsui was illuminated for four hours on Wednesday evening in blue – the colour of the European Union flag – to symbolise EU-Hong Kong friendship. Representatives of 17 European countries and Chief Executive Carrie Lam attended the event.

“Our strong and long-standing cooperation continues to reward both sides. Indeed, the European Union is Hong Kong’s third largest trading partner after mainland China and the ASEAN,” Lam said in a speech.

Lam announced that she is to visit three European countries during a tour in June, starting in Brussels.

‘Good and loyal friends’

The event was part of an effort to promote the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year. Hong Kong Tourism Board Chair Peter Lam said: “Hong Kong has always been a popular destination for European travellers. In 2017 alone, we welcomed nearly two million visitors from Europe.”

He encouraged EU visitors to travel to Hong Kong and mainland China by using the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the Express Rail Link, two major infrastructure projects that are set to commence operations in the near future.

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Carrie Lam at the Europe Day event. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

In an op-ed to Hong Kong Free Press, the EU Office said that Hong Kong is one of the Union’s top ten investment partners. “In 2017, EU-HK bilateral trade reached an all-time high in goods and services,” it said.

It said the Union and its member states have been “good and loyal friends” to the people of Hong Kong.

“As we celebrate 25 years of EU presence in Hong Kong, we renew our commitment to contribute to Hong Kong’s success, which is entrenched in our shared allegiance to the rule of law, our shared universal values, and the adherence to the ‘one country, two system’ principle,” it said.

More than 30 landmarks and historical monuments across China, including the Summer Palace in Beijing and the Great Wall, were also lit up in celebration of Europe Day.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.