On December 14-18, 2014, C-100 Chairman Clarence Kwan led a members delegation to Beijing. Delegates participated in a number of high level activities at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse and elsewhere, exploring concrete ways that C-100 members can play a bridging role in US-China relations. C-100 Greater China Co-Chairs Dazong Wang and Howard Li served as organizers and hosts in Beijing, ensuring that all meeting logistics and details were handled smoothly. Below is a recap of day-by-day activities.
On December 14 a number of C-100 members paid a visit to the newly opened Overseas Chinese History Museum. Despite being closed on Sundays, the director of the museum, Huang Ji Kai, graciously gave a special private tour of the museum to visiting C-100 members and discussed possibilities of hosting and exchanging exhibits from the United States. The museum is built within a traditional but regal courtyard setting in a Beijing hutong. The entrance hall welcomed members with an enormous copper wall sculpture depicting the roots of a tree, which symbolized Chinese diaspora planting roots around the world. There was also a state-of-the art electronic calligraphy and photo-taking interactive display, allowing visitors to leave their calligraphic signatures and photos at the museum. Three levels of exhibitions showcased rich and diverse perspectives tracking the footprints of China’s emigrants around the world. At the end of the tour, C-100 members were shown an entire floor of empty exhibition space and discussed possible projects to develop exchanges with US organizations and also engage the next generation. Members also met with Ms. Nancy Tang Wensheng at the museum, former interpreter for Chairman Mao Zedong and current Vice Chair of the Overseas Chinese Federation the umbrella organization overseeing the museum’s development.
On December 15, the Committee of 100 co-hosted a special forum honoring the 35th anniversary of U.S.-China diplomatic relations with the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council at the historic Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.
C-100 Greater China Co-Chairs, Howard Li and Dazong Wang played key roles in the conference both behind the scenes and as speakers during the day’s luncheon and closing plenary. Clarence Kwan and C-100 member Dali Yang spoke on the preliminary results of a new C-100 members survey covering important issues of trust and trade in U.S.-China relations. Nearly 90 C-100 members participated in the survey, with the majority of respondents believing that mutual trust between the American and Chinese public has decreased since 2012. In his morning keynote remarks, Clarence Kwan observed that despite decrease in trust from the general public, “trust and favorable impressions” are improving between American and Chinese youth, and made the case for increased support in people-to-people exchanges.
In the morning, members met with Politburo Standing Committee member Yu Zhengsheng, Chairman of the Consultation on the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Despite not feeling well, Chairman Yu spoke lightheartedly and candidly, saying “I developed a cold this morning, but decided that I still had to come; you are after all famous and influential people, and this is a special occasion.”
After a series of speeches, C-100 members hosted the luncheon at Diaoyutai for all participants, where co-founder Shirley Young spoke on the importance of cultural exchanges as one of the most enduring and powerful ways to build relations between the US and China. Madam Qiu Yuanping gave a keynote at the luncheon espousing the increasingly important role of the Chinese-American community in US-China relations.
In his keynote speech, Ambassador Nicholas Platt discussed his own experiences as a participant in the early days of diplomatic relations, including the historic trip with President Nixon. He ended by sharing an inspiring lesson on diplomacy, “At high altitudes, policy planners talk of serious disputes and a lack of ‘strategic trust.’ Lower down, where the winds are calmer and the temperature warmer, strong ‘tactical trust’ enables us to work together day to day, not without some friction, but expanding inexorably.” Before dinner, State Councilor Yang Jiechi had a dialogue with members, commending the Committee of 100 for its role in elevating the relationship between two nations.
C-100 members began the next day with a members meeting, followed by the annual LSP Mentorship Program and Awards Ceremony. C-100 members Richard Lee and Ge Li served in leadership roles as LSP Co-Chairs for 2014. Nearly 20 C-100 members volunteered an entire afternoon to provide mentorship to 200 next generation leaders from China and the United States. C-100 Chairman Clarence Kwan, LSP Co-Chair Richard Lee, and Greater China Regional Co-Chairs Howard Li and Dazong Wang
participated in a panel discussion on the importance of next-generation leadership in cultivating U.S.-China trust, which was followed by smaller break-out sessions covering the topics of Entrepreneurship, Social Responsibility, Innovation and Leadership. Finally, young mentees were split into groups of 5-10 to engage more intimately with C-100 members in a small round-table setting. About a dozen young Americans studying in China received exclusive invitations to the C-100 event through the Project Pengyou network.
That evening C-100 hosted its ninth Leadership Scholarship Program (LSP) gala dinner and awarded scholarships to 28 exemplary Chinese graduate students for their track record of leadership, academic excellence, and commitment to service. Ambassador Nicholas Platt spoke again as keynote, noting that LSP mentees ” are at the forefront of the world’s most important bilateral relationship.” The event concluded with a stirring operatic performance from C-100 member Tian Haojiang‘s iSING! Beijing ensemble.