Message from Piet Steel, Concul-General of Belgium WHEN I was a young diplomat based in London many years ago, my English friends, to tease me, used to play a game in which they asked each other to name three world-famous Belgians. They seldom could. But a country is more than the sum total of its famous men. Though Belgium has had her share of famous men - too many to list here - what makes Belgium extraordinary is the quality of life created and enjoyed by almost all her citizens. According to recent measures of prosperity, Belgium ranks fifth in the world, behind only Luxembourg, the United States, Switzerland and Japan. After more than two years in Hong Kong, I can see that individual and social virtues, which have given Belgium such a high position in the world's prosperity league table, have been successfully transplanted in Hong Kong. The Belgian Business Association is active and has a steadily growing membership, involved in banking, in shipping, in dredging and the food industry. But Belgians do not, will not, live by work alone. The Belgian Club organises a busy programme of social events for the whole community. And the spiritual side of life is not neglected; we have a strongly supportive Belgian religious community. Belgian businessmen need have no fear of competitors. Belgium's assets are formidable: it lies at the heart of Europe. It is the heart of Europe - an international crossroads and service centre. However, the country's real and solid achievements should not make us complacent. Belgium's image abroad could be improved. In the eyes of too many people, Belgium is seen as being worthy but often dull. This can have an adverse effect on our trade with other countries. Maybe there is something in our nature and history that accounts for this; as we say in Belgium: 'vivre heureux, c'est vivre cache' (to live happily, live discreetly). There is much to be said for this attitude but, in the world of international trade, image is important. Belgium has much to offer Hong Kong and the world. The Consulate-General intends to demonstrate this with a special promotion. Flowers & Leaves is a major exhibition which will be staged in the garden of my residence from November 29 to December 3. It will enable us to show off our world-famous products: exotic flowers, chocolate, beer and superb cuisine. There are only 600 days before the transfer of Hong Kong to Chinese rule. Belgium is determined to have a prominent position in the future of Hong Kong. We believe that the many difficult transitional issues facing the territory can be resolved if all parties are prepared to negotiate in a spirit of genuine compromise. We are convinced that this dynamic, wealthy and free society will continue to develop and care for her own citizens, share in China's development and make a substantial contribution to the future of the world.