|Consul General Hong Lei attended NBA Team Minnesota Timberwolves' 2018 Chinese New Year Celebration|
On February 13, 2018, NBA team Minnesota Timberwolves and Global Minnesota co-hosted the 2018 Chinese New Year celebration. Consul General Hong Lei, CEO of Minnesota Timberwolves Ethan Casson, Chief Strategy Officer for Minnesota Timberwolves Ted Johnson and President of Global Minnesota Carol Byrne attended the event. This is the first time that Minnesota Timberwolves held a Chinese New Year Celebration at its home court game during the Chinese Lunar New Year period.
The game took place at the Target Center, Minneapolis between Timberwolves and Houston Rockets. Before the game, CEO Casson invited Consul General Hong Lei to the center of the court and greeted 20,000 audience. He then gave the Consul General a basketball with Timberwolves team logo and all players' signatures. Consul General Hong Lei gave CEO Casson in exchange a red lacquer vase with Chinese characteristics as a symbol of prosperity.
In order to highlight Chinese cultural elements and festivity, the Timberwolves made careful preparations for the event. Before the game, world-renowned Chinese American pipa performer Gao Hong played the American national anthem with a traditional Chinese instrument. During the break, red envelopes and auspicious puppies were distributed to the audience. Cheerleaders performed wearing Chinese qipao. During the game, the big screen in the court displayed from time to time "Dancing Wolves, Spring Blesses" and "Happy Chinese New Year" in Chinese. The visiting Houston Rockets’ players also wore jerseys with their team name "rocket" printed in Chinese.
During the halftime break, accompanied by music filled with rich Chinese elements, the Minnesota Huaxing Art Group – CAAM Chinese Dance Theater performed a “Dragon and Phoenix Dance” specially designed for the event. Flying golden dragon, waving red silk and fans won rounds of applause from the audience, indulging the entire stadium in a festive and happy atmosphere.
Before the game, Consul General Hung Lei also attended a reception jointly hosted by the Timberwolves and Global Minnesota. More than 100 Minnesota business leaders were also present.
Consul General Hong Lei expressed his gratitude to the Timberwolves for hosting a special event celebrating the Chinese New Year and providing the American audience an opportunity to celebrate the Spring Festival with the Chinese American community and share their joy. Consul General Hong Lei said that in recent years, China and Minnesota have made important progress in cooperation and exchanges in economy and trade, education, culture, as well as science and technology. This is truly an epitome of the sound development of Sino-US relations. The development of China and the United States is complementary. Developing the friendship between the two countries and deepening our cooperation is in the common interests of both countries. It is also in line with the expectations of the international community. China is willing to work hand in hand with friends from all walks of life in Minnesota to promote Sino-US relations and to consolidate the cooperation between China and Minnesota. Consul General Hong Lei also made a special presentation introducing the first China International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai this year and invited wide participation from Minnesota.
CEO Casson said that the Timberwolves is the first NBA team that received Chinese investment. It has a large base of Chinese fans. In October 2017, the Timberwolves went to China to participate in the NBA China Game and were warmly received by Chinese fans. The Timberwolves expressed its heartfelt gratitude to Chinese Consulate General in Chicago for their strong support for the Chinese New Year celebration and hoped that both sides will continue to maintain close cooperation in the future.
President Byrne said that Global Minnesota pays special attention to China's development and places great emphasis on people-to-people exchanges and cooperation. In order to further enhance the mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples, Global Minnesota has designated 2018 as the Year of China. It will host a series of economic, trade and cultural exchange events to highlight China in Minnesota and to promote Minnesota in China.
Video of the performances: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2fdgjm20oU