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CALIFORNIA | Virtual Ceremony | HEARD ON THE BEAT /
INTERNATIONAL TRADE

L.A. Events to Mark Hong Kong's Shift

March 28, 1997|EVELYN IRITANI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Californians unable to get a plane ticket to Hong Kong for July's historic transfer of sovereignty can still enjoy a breakfast of Chinese congee and a front-row seat by signing up for "Hong Kong '97: Witnessing the Transfer" at the Hollywood Park Executive Conference Center on June 30.

Beginning at 6:30 a.m., participants can sip tea and smugly enjoy their cushy seats while watching via satellite television the thousands of people fighting for a spot at the festivities marking the end of more than 150 years of British rule in Hong Kong. The handover will take place at 9 a.m., which is midnight in Hong Kong.

Afterward, there will be a daylong business seminar on opportunities in Hong Kong and China and a trade show.

Mario Machado, the Los Angeles TV personality who is helping the U.S.A.-China Chamber of Commerce organize the event, said the purpose is to bring together Americans with an interest in Hong Kong to discuss what the end of British rule means for the region. The proceeds will benefit Asia-Pacific community organizations supported by the United Way.

"We won't change the history that is being made that day, but we can look into the future," Machado said.

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As the home of the largest ethnic Chinese community in the United States, Southern California has a unique perspective on the upcoming event.

This is particularly true for the San Gabriel Valley, where ethnic Chinese immigrants have transformed the local economy by establishing restaurants and retail stores and investing capital in small high-tech ventures and trading firms.

On June 12, the Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Greater Los Angeles World Trade Center, the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, the Pacific Rim Society and the Washington State China Relations Council, is putting on a daylong seminar focused on business opportunities in Hong Kong and China. The chamber's event is being held at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

Making money isn't the only thing on the minds of Southern California's Chinese community. There are dozens of social and cultural events being planned in conjunction with the Hong Kong transition, according to Katrina Leung, president of the Los Angeles-Guangzhou Sister City Assn. The events begin June 1 and run through early July.

Leung, the unofficial coordinator of Southern California's Hong Kong transition activities, acknowledged that there are critics of China who might not share her optimism about Hong Kong's future.

But Leung believes most Chinese view the transition with great pride because it marks an end to colonial rule and Hong Kong's return to the motherland.

"This is definitely a celebration," she said.

Times staff writer Evelyn Iritani can be contacted by fax at (213) 237-7837 or by e-mail at evelyn.iritani@latimes.com

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