(New York, NY, April 17, 2019) — Over 700 people and over 25 media organizations participated last weekend at the Committee of 100 (“C100”) 30th Anniversary Annual Gala and Conference in New York City. More than 50 CEOs came together to discuss hot-button issues, opportunities and the current outlook surrounding the U.S.-China relationship, including political and geostrategic considerations, trade and economics, culture and entertainment, and technology.
C100, a premier U.S. organization of Chinese-American leaders, hosted a CEO & Leaders Forum Debate prior to the Gala on April 5, and separately released a global company CEO snap survey with the U.S.-China Business Council (USCBC). The survey compiled opinions of leaders across industries, revealing that executives from the U.S. and China are cautiously optimistic on future prospects for their businesses, but have mixed views on whether commercial relations will return to where they were prior to current tensions.
C100 Chairman H. Roger Wang noted the survey results indicate that more should be done to stabilize the business environment for American and Chinese companies. “While Chinese companies are more confident that business will return to normal after an agreement, fewer are prioritizing the United States than their American counterparts are in their approach to China.”
Wang kicked off the weekend by looking to the future evolution of U.S.-China relations and the underlying role C100 will play. “C100 is in a very special position to serve as a trusted bridge and provide our understanding of our 30 years of work in this area for how the U.S. and China can build a more positive and constructive future,” he said. “The work is going to be challenging but I truly believe that these two great nations, two great countries, and two great peoples will find a way to come out with a cooperative and collaborative resolution to face this new challenge.”
Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence H. Summers opened the Gala dinner as a keynote speaker, noting that successful U.S.-China relations in regard to information technology and life sciences could usher in marked improvements in the human condition – and that without cooperation, the first half of the 21st century could be sobering and cautionary. Summers remarked, “The challenge is before us, I believe that it is one that will be met, but it is one that will be met not automatically, but with the kind of leadership represented by the Committee of 100.”
Ambassador Huang Ping, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in New York, noted that even as trade, economic, and people-to-people exchanges are in full swing, there are growing misgivings about China’s national policy and long-term strategic intentions, with some arguing that the U.S. should disengage with China as the two countries are distinctly different in their paths to development. Ambassador Huang concluded, “Frankly speaking, these opinions have lost sight of how much China and the U.S. have benefitted from each other’s development, and how much they can achieve together by a shared vision and a common responsibility.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng, U.S. Representative to New York’s 6th District, commented, “Thank you [C100] so much for the incredible work that you do. Asian Americans are still constantly underrepresented in so many fields and major decision making tables but we are making progress and that is thanks to so many of you here today.”
In celebration of its 30th Anniversary, C100 recognized five Governors, namely, Yo-Yo Ma, I.M. Pei, Henry Tang, Oscar Tang, and Shirley Young, for their vision to co-found C100.
C100 honored I.M. Pei, who is turning 102, with the “Lifetime Achievement Award for Global Architectural Design,” accepted by his son and C100 Member Chien Chung (Didi) Pei. C100 also honored Morris Chang with the “Lifetime Achievement Award for Global Technology Innovation,” Maurice R. Greenberg with the “Lifetime Achievement Award for Advancing U.S.-China Relations,” and Peter Wang with a posthumous award for embodying the best of American ideals and heroism as the 15-year-old Chinese-American freshman who gave his life while saving his classmates in the Parkland shooting last year.
Greenberg, Chairman & CEO of Starr Companies, an American insurance and financial services conglomerate celebrating its 100 years of doing business in China, commented on the future of U.S.-China relations, saying, “It’s very important that our two countries find ways to get together. The world is a much safer place with China and the U.S. as allies, and hopefully as close ones, than it would be if China and Russia were allies. I’m very dedicated to that and I work on it as much as I can, and as often as I can.”
Chang, Founding Chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Ltd. and C100 Member, in his acceptance speech reminded everyone of the importance of C100’s dual mission. “One part of the mission is to improve U.S.-China relations, and another part is to raise the stature of Chinese Americans in America,” he said. “Now, on the second part, I think you all can see that the stature of Chinese Americans in America has risen a great deal in the last 30 years. The first part, that of improving the U.S.-China relationship, is an ever-present challenge, and particularly so this year, but I am quite sure, as in the past, they will rise and make their contribution to meet that challenge.”
Following the awards, David Rubenstein, Co-Founder & Co-Executive Chairman of The Carlyle Group, moderated a fireside chat with tech titans, featuring Chang and Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP. These global icons, all of whom have extensive U.S.-China involvement, spoke about their personal experiences and how they shaped them as leaders.
The Gala dinner included a private performance by C100 Governor Yo-Yo Ma, where he weaved together commentary and presentation with his signature cello performance. Speaking of the connection between the founding of C100 and today’s U.S.-China relationship, Ma commented, “three decades later, the need for bridge building is greater than ever. The work is not finished. I’m here tonight, as a musician, a citizen and a member of the Committee to remind us all of the essential role that culture plays not just in understanding or building bridges but in defining our common future.” He concluded, “Cultural evolution will be a main force driving our future, we are therefore the architects of that future.”
The closing keynote, by the Honorable Kevin Rudd, President of Asia Society’s Policy Institute and 26th Prime Minister of Australia, reflected on the historic nature of the U.S.-China relationship, noting that diplomacy and mutual self-interest had allowed the relationship not just to survive but to prosper. He also cautioned, “Let us be very careful when this country legitimately conducts its national debate on the future of its China strategy, Republican or Democrat. Let us not create an atmosphere where those who are Chinese Americans are in any way placed under a cloud of suspicion. We must stand firm against the appearance of anything which resembles a new McCarthyism.”
The conference panels were held on Saturday, April 6, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. The first panel, “Reflections and Outlook from Former U.S. Ambassadors”, dived into political ties and diplomatic relations between the two countries, and was chaired by Lanhee Chen, Former Policy Director to Mitt Romney, Fellow at the Hoover Institution and C100 Member, with Ambassador Craig Allen, President, USCBC; Ambassador Max S. Baucus, Co-Founder, Baucus Group LLC; and Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy, Founding Director Emeritus, Kissinger Institute on China and the United States. The panelists agreed that the focus should be on collaboration and progress rather than ideological issues which are inherent across different cultures and systems.
The second panel, “The Rise of China Biopharma: Opportunity, Threat or Both?”, featured industry leaders Helen Chen, Greater China Managing Director, L.E.K. Consulting; Stephen P. Spielberg, Former Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products, U.S. FDA; and Xiaoqiang Yan, CEO & CSO, Generon (Shanghai) Corporation Ltd. The panel was chaired by Peter Young, President & Managing Director, Young & Partners and C100 Member.
Next, Richard Lui, MSNBC and NBC Anchor, chaired a panel entitled “Fintech or Techfin? What’s Next for Global Financial Services” and hosted experts Thomas J. McInerney, President & CEO, Genworth Financial; Vincenzo La Ruffa, Partner, Aquiline Capital Partners; and Ken Xie, Founder, Chairman of the Board & CEO, Fortinet and C100 Member. McInerney spoke about development of various insurance and retirement products in China alongside their potential future parent, China Oceanwide. Speaking about where they can invest in better fintech products together, he said, “I think China, just because it is a more mobile savvy consumer base, that a lot of [investment] will go into those types of delivery mechanisms.”
Following the luncheon, the afternoon panel was “The Human Connection: China and America in Culture and Entertainment” and featured well-known leaders in the U.S.-China arts and entertainment, Yu Gong, Founder & CEO, iQIYI; Robert Nederlander, Jr., President & CEO, Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment; Joseph W. Polisi, President Emeritus & Chief China Officer, The Juilliard School; and Benjamin T. Wood, Founder, Studio Shanghai Architectural Firm. It was chaired by Shirley Young, President, U.S.-China Cultural Institute and C100 Governor. Gong highlighted that iQIYI has curated content to bridge the tastes of both American and Chinese audiences, which has helped introduce Chinese culture and entertainment to international markets.
The final panel, “New Engines for U.S.-China Economic Prosperity,” featured Richard Edelman, President & CEO, Edelman; Shan Li, CEO, Silk Road Finance Corporation; and Yang Liu, Chairperson & Chief Investment Officer, Atlantis Investment Management, and were led in discussion by Xiang Zhang, President, University of Hong Kong. The panelists exhibited hope about the economic futures of the U.S. and China. In spite of expected challenges within the world’s largest two economies, both countries have identified new growth engines in infrastructure, finance, technology and innovation.
The full-day conference with these expert panels concluded with C100 New York Regional Chair X. Rick Niu announcing the C100 Annual Conference in 2020 will take place in Los Angeles.
Very importantly, C100 released a statement condemning racial profiling on Sunday, April 7.
To see the full program and list of speakers, please visit https://www.committee100.org/2019acny/. Follow C100 on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for C100 news and highlights.