There was no drama at the celebration of the Spanish National Day in Hong Kong, which took place last Tuesday (10 October), as Consul General Santiago Martinez-Caro delivered a carefully – and brilliantly – worded speech on promoting national solidarity amid a political crisis back home sparked by Catalonia’s independence movement.
While the current developments in Catalonia were kept out of the speech, the consul general noted on several occasions Barcelona’s importance in the stable and growing ties between Spain and Hong Kong, which included a recent inclusion of Barcelona as the second direct flight destination from Hong Kong to Spain, the presence of Futbol Club Barcelona with a regional office set up in Hong Kong several years ago, as well as the originally Catalan-headquartered CaixaBank’s opening of a Hong Kong branch this year.
Martinez-Caro also highlighted events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Enrique Granados Campiña, a Catalan-Spanish pianist and composer of classical music whose music is said to be a representative of musical nationalism reflecting styles of different Spanish regions.
“This multiculturalism has been one of the major distinctive qualities which has made Spain unique for the past 500 years and will continue to be so in the hundreds of years to come,” Martinez-Caro said.
The consul general, who once witnessed political and economic instabilities when serving in Africa and Latin America, then moved on and stressed the importance of the state in protecting the rule of law against “old ideologies”.
“We share common values, like the respect for the rule of law, and the independence of the judiciary. […] In Spain, these are values that have allowed us to put behind difficulties that Spain, like every other country or continent, has suffered in the past,” he said. “The rule of law should not always be taken for granted. […] Xenophobic and racist attitudes are still lurking at modern times. […] But here and now, China, and its thriving region of Hong Kong, and Spain […] share the absolute need for the welfare of our citizens’ upholding the laws, within the rules, but with all means at the disposal of the state, whose main raison d’être is, after all, the protection of the individual and collective rights of each and every one of its citizens.”
Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po was the Guest of Honour of the night. Among the guests were head of European Office Carmen Cano, French Consul General Eric Berti as well as German Consul General Dieter Lamlé.