BEIJING - It was a feast for all the senses on Saturday night (Aug 4) in Beijing, when a hotel ballroom was transformed into a little slice of Singapore for a few hours.
About 360 guests, many wearing colourful ethnic dress, tucked into a spread of dishes from home and sang the national anthem and songs like Count on Me Singapore at the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China's (SingCham) annual National Day Dinner.
It was a far cry from when SingCham began in 2002, with just eight members, to represent Singapore business interests to the Chinese government and help businessmen network with their Chinese counterparts, .
The organisation has grown to about 1,000 members, with chapters in eight provinces and cities, including Chongqing, Tianjin, Fujian and Guangdong, amongst others.
It will also set up a Shanghai chapter by the end of the year.
Many came to the dinner at the Grand Millennium Hotel in the Central Business District, ready to celebrate Singapore.
A number, like Mr Benjamin Chan for instance, came in batik shirts.
"It's not every day you can wear something like this," said the 42-year-old general manager for Singapore Airlines in China, who said apart from the food, he also misses Singapore's clear blue skies.
People also brought their appetites for dishes like fish curry, chicken rice and nyonya chap chye, prepared by chefs specially flown from the Orchard Hotel in Singapore.
Singapore's ambassador to China Stanley Loh, who was guest of honour at the event, said relations between the two countries have continued to strengthen, and thanked SingCham for its role as a reliable partner in promoting good relations.
SingCham chair Dorothy Seet said in her speech that the current business environment in China is challenging, given the brewing trade war with the United States, but there were still opportunities to be found, particularly in China's One Belt One Road Initiative.
In particular, companies could help be a bridge for Chinese companies seeking to expand to Southeast Asia, she said.
"Singapore companies can play a role in this, as we are familiar with the culture and can be a bridge to link businesses together," she said.
With Singapore's 53rd National Day fast approaching, festivities have kicked off for Singaporeans in China.
The Singapore Embassy held a lunch reception on Friday and will hold an open house on Aug 11 as part of its National Day celebrations.