I've been with AmCham for just over a year, but a day never passes without a reminder that our mission has been sharp and strong for nearly half a century.

Since its founding in 1969, AmCham has been at the heart of debate over many key issues affecting Hong Kong – from talent shortages to living costs, pollution to tax reform. But our loudest voice has been in fostering engagement with Hong Kong and China and in promoting the benefits of free trade.

In May, we mark 45 years since the U.S. and China began normalizing relations, and it's fair to say we find ourselves in a very different position today than Chamber members anticipated back then.

And while the picture is far from perfect, it's worth remembering some words from Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China's economic opening: When you open the windows, some flies are bound to come in.  

Free trade is in Hong Kong's DNA, and while the U.S. and Hong Kong have experienced small hiccups over decades of vibrant cooperation, today our exchange of goods and services stands out as a model relationship.

Hong Kong shares similar business values with the United States, with home grown companies excelling globally. Just recently, Li Ka-shing, one of Hong Kong's best-known businessmen, handed his son the keys to a global and sophisticated ports-to-telecoms empire that was built from an entrepreneurial start of selling plastic flowers to overseas markets.

It is vital that we recall and value Hong Kong's unique role as an essential gateway through which flows of trade, investment and financial services help lubricate the global economy. Our city also remains a bastion of free exchange and respect for individual liberty, something we highly value at the chamber.