Former Vice Premier Qian Qichen was the distinguished guest and honoree at the gala dinner for Bridge to Change II, the Committee’s Second Greater China Conference, held at the China World Hotel in Beijing on November 26. Four hundred guests were present.
Introduced by Committee Chairman John L. Fugh as “China’s most successful foreign minister in recent memory,” Qian was China’s Foreign Minister for the pivotal decade of 1988- 1998. “He believed that China and the U.S. could reconcile differences through dialogue, he emphasized cooperation, avoided conflict, and sought a win-win solution,” said Fugh. Qian guided Chinese foreign policy at a time when China’s international reputation took a plunge with the government’s response to the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement, resolved various trade and human rights disputes, and ended his tenure with the exchange of visits between President Jiang Zemin and President Bill Clinton in 1997 and 1998. In a prepared statement, Qian said he was “deeply grateful for the Committee of 100’s recognition,” and he noted that “the development of China-U.S. relations is not possible without the support and participation of Chinese Americans.”
A major address on China’s foreign relations was given by Zhang Yesui, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs at the gala dinner. In the 35 years since President Nixon’s visit to China and the signing of the Shanghai Communiqué, “Taiwan remains the most important and most sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations,” said Zhang. “This year and the next year are a high-risk period for relations across the Taiwan Straits.” He urged the U.S. to “adopt a more clear-cut position and take more forceful steps and work with China to block Chen Shui-bian’s path toward ‘Taiwan independence’ . . . “
Among the special guests present at the gala were Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in China Daniel Picutta; Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference C.H. Tung; Chairman of the National Council for Social Security Fund Xiang Huaicheng; Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress Lu Congmin;
Director of the Information Office of the State Council Cai Wu; Vice Minister of Education Wu Qidi; and the former Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Li Daoyu.
The Beijing conference attracted a wide variety of sponsors, the most prominent being Golden Eagle (Roger Wang); Hang Lung Properties (Ronnie Chan); Gina Lin and David Chu; the Business School of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; Forbes China; and United Air Lines.
Panels, mostly in English but with simultaneous translation provided in both Chinese and English, focused on topics of interest to the international business community. Among the most popular was “China’s Capital Markets: Going Global,” which was closed to media coverage and featured Gao Xiqing, General Manager of China Investment Corporation, a government company formed to invest $200 billion of China’s foreign exchange holdings. Other panels covered corporate social responsibility, energy security and environmental responsibility, China’s new media, and the U.S. presidential race
(with three American political commentators—David Brooks, Charles Cook and Juan Williams). Over 20 media organizations covered the conference, including Beijing Youth Daily, People’s Daily, Sina, Sohu, and CCTV.
Members and sponsors were treated to a dinner and moonlight tour hosted by Ronnie Chan and organized by Happy Harun, China Heritage Fund Director, at the Garden of the Palace of Established Happiness of Emperor Qian Long in the Forbidden City. The garden is a magnificent reconstruction project undertaken by Chan’s China Heritage Fund. Calvin Tsao, the architect who designed the elegant, modern interiors of this garden complex, was present as was Cheng Siwei, NPC Vice Chairman and Xu Kuangdi, former Mayor of Shanghai.
A mentoring session for young professionals at Google China, a China tour for the three journalists, and a series of meetings with Chinese leaders allowed the Committee to make the most of this important opportunity for Sino-American exchange.
Bringing this bi-national conference together were the four co-chairs, Mei-Wei Cheng, Wei Christianson, Handel Lee and Kai-Fu Lee (all stationed in China), backed up by the staff–Executive Director Alice Mong, Public Affairs Director An Ping, Development Director Michael Lee, and Program Manager (Hong Kong) Maggie Liu, who is the only staff member in Asia. Topping the list of volunteers were Peggy Chau, Mike Fung, and Lily Tchen, who have assisted with past conferences and are all presently in Greater China. Event coordinators were Vivian Du, Beijing Times and Wisdom Public Relations Consulting Co., and Maggie Tsai and Elisa Ma, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.