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Hong Kong cultural celebrations to mark Chinese New Year

To strengthen Hong Kong's cultural ties with Vancouver and promote Asia's world city's heritage to the Canadian community, the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office (Canada) (HKETO) and the Canadian Cancer Society of British Columbia and Yukon (CCS), today (January 4, Vancouver time) jointly announced a four-day event - "Hong Kong Cultural & Heritage Celebrations" - to be held over Chinese New Year in Vancouver.

The "Hong Kong Cultural & Heritage Celebrations" are presented by the HKETO in association with the Home Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, and organised by CCS.

The highlights of the Hong Kong celebrations are wushu (martial arts) and Cantonese opera performances at the Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts on February 4 and 5. Other events include a Chinese New Year dinner at Chinatown Floata Restaurant on February 2 and a two-week Hong Kong Heritage Exhibition at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver scheduled to be opened on February 2.

Led by Hong Kong's Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Patrick Ho, with former Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Ms Shelley Lee, as honorary deputy leader, the 70-member delegation will fly in from Hong Kong as the city's Goodwill Ambassadors to send their greetings to the people in Vancouver.

"Following the great success of a wushu performance in 2004 in Calgary and a Cantonese opera performance in Montreal in 2002, we are delighted to bring these two groups of performers to Vancouver to demonstrate to Canadians Hong Kong's vibrancy and sophistication as Asia's world city through the beauty and artistry of their performances," said Mr Bassanio So, the Director of the HKETO at today's press conference. He thanked the Hong Kong Wushu Union and Hong Kong Cantonese Opera for their participation in the event.

"To strengthen our relationship with Vancouver, and as a gesture of goodwill, we are pleased to turn over the net proceeds from these two performances to the Canadian Cancer Society," he said.

Speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister of Canada, the Honourable Stephen Owen, Minister of Western Economic Diversification and Minister of State (Sport), thanked the Hong Kong SAR Government for presenting the event in Vancouver, and described it as a significant move in reinforcing the "long-standing good relations" between Hong Kong and Canada. "Apart from our strong economic and trade links, we are now building up our cultural links."

In a letter to the organisers, Mayor Sam Sullivan of Vancouver, said the Hong Kong celebrations would "make an impact on people living with cancer in our community."

The gala performance at the Centre in Vancouver will start at 7.30pm on February 4 (Saturday), and a matinee will be held the following day at 2.30pm. The matinee is targeted at the younger population, and students will be invited to take part as a cultural exchange program. Well-known Hong Kong Cantonese Opera performers Chan Kim-sing, Wong Chiu-kwan and Ng Chin-fung, will perform two opera excerpts, "Chasing After Her Husband from Di Qing" and "The Barracks from the Unmatchable Pair" for their Vancouver audience. The dazzling Cantonese opera portion of the program will last about an hour.

In addition, about 30 young athletes with the Hong Kong Wushu Union - many of them Hong Kong's champion wushu athletes and medal winners at the recent Asian Games and international wushu competitions - including renowned World Champion Ms Li Fai, will come to Vancouver for the cause, and join the second half of the performances. People in Vancouver will have a unique opportunity to witness this ancient Asian martial arts form in a spectacular format. The action-packed performances include tai chi, swordplay, spearplay, bare-handed exercises, and different styles of "quan" (Chinese boxing).

Prior to the joint wushu-Cantonese opera performances, a fascinating exhibition entitled "Hong Kong's Cultural Heritage: A History of 6,000 Years" will be opened at the Chinese Cultural Centre on February 2 at 4pm. Presenting a glimpse of Hong Kong's heritage from the Neolithic Period, the Bronze Age, to the Qing Dynasty and Hong Kong under British rule, the exhibition will help enhance Canadians' understanding of and interest in the history and culture of Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) will hold the "Culture & Heritage Celebration - 18 days of Chinese Festivals" in Hong Kong in April and May this year. Unique activities and events such as Temple Market, Buddhist ceremonies, kung fu performances by the Shaolin little monks, a Buddhist retreat, float parade, bun scrambling competition and carnival will be staged during the period.

To complement the events in Vancouver and Hong Kong, the HKTB will give away a trip for two to visit the "18 days of Chinese Festivals" in Hong Kong. A Hong Kong tourism display will also be held in Vancouver. The HKTB will announce details later.

Tickets for the Chinese New Year dinner, which is also a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society, are priced at C$38 per person, while the tickets for the joint wushu-Cantonese opera performances are at C$98 (VIP), C$58 and C$38. For ticket enquiries, please call the CCS at (604) 708-8818.

Ends/Thursday, January 5, 2006

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