Hong Kong Jews' China Hearts
   2013-07-20 21:40:16    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Liu Yuanhui

Chinese ambassador to Israel Gao Yanping poses for photos with Jewish athletes representing Hong Kong, China at the 19th Maccabiah, the Jewish Olympics, at the ambassador's residence in Herzliya, Israel on Friday, July 19, 2013. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com / Zhang Jin]

By CRI's Jerusalem Correspondent Zhang Jin

  

Jewish athletes representing Hong Kong, China, at the 19th Maccabiah, the Jewish Olympics, expressed their enthusiasm in contributing to the China-Israel friendship when meeting the Chinese ambassador to Israel.

Carrying both the Chinese national flag and the flag of Hong Kong, 17 athletes from Chinese mainland and Hong Kong walked into the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah Games. Among them the oldest athlete is 65 years old, while the youngest is only 13. They will compete in football, swimming, tennis, fencing and many other games representing Hong Kong, China.

Football player Jason Webber can't contain his excitement when talking about their entry into the stadium.

"We were very proud. Everyone was asking us: are you sure you're from Hong Kong? Are you sure you're from Hong Kong, China?"
Such questions are actually not strange, as these athletes wearing the logo of "Hong Kong, China" are actually foreigners. Coming from different countries, most of them are now Hong Kong residents, and many work in the finance or law sectors.

"We live and work in Hong Kong because of the openness of the way of doing business in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is the gateway to China. International customers like doing business in China. They like using international bankers and lawyers in Beijing and Hong Kong. There's more foreign investment into Hong Kong, into China in all industries. People are confident about doing business with China, and doing business through Hong Kong in China, so China has done a very good job keeping Hong Kong as an international center with investors' confidence."

Chinese ambassador to Israel Gao Yanping chats with seven Jewish football players from Hong Kong, hoping they can be a bridge between China and Israel.

"A lot of people outside China look at Hong Kong as a window to China, as the first step to opening the door of China. So I do hope all of you can contribute to the friendly and cooperative relations between China and Israel. I know Israel is always a sweet home for all of you, and you should regard China as your second home town, your second sweet home."

Nil Hyman, a lawyer in Hong Kong, says they have witnessed more and more business with Chinese mainland companies since Hong Kong's return to China. They hope that Chinese and Jewish people will build closer connections.

"We think connecting China and Jewish people is a very important part of our role. We're there, we can reach out to the Chinese people, and hopefully have good relationships. There're a few reasons. Political, yes. But also for friendship and to share historical views, and business."

Although some of the Jews have lived in China for over 20 years, most of them can only speak a few simple Chinese words. However, their children are all learning Chinese, especially mandarin.

"We believe that the next generation has to speak Chinese. Our children are now taking intensive mandarin. So it's trilingual. They learn English, Hebrew, and Chinese, mandarin, and they're all very good. And they really enjoy it. If you attend their Chinese lesson, I think you'll be quite impressed by their standard Putonghua (mandarin). They're very good."

Living in Hong Kong for so many years has made these Jews love Hong Kong and China so much that they want to compete for the honor of China. The football players are confident over the upcoming match against Mexico.

"No problem. We'll destroy them and we'll win. We won't let China down."

This year is the first time that Jewish athletes from Chinese mainland are attending the Maccabiah. The Hong Kong Jews hope that more Jews living in the mainland can join them in next Maccabiah after four years to make them a real China team.  

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