Join us for our signature event of the year!

The 1990 Institute Board and
our Gala Co-Chairs Brian Wong & Sandra Pan invite you to…

2017 Gala & Symposium
Sunday, March 5, 2017

Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
757 Market Street at Third

2:30 pm – 5:30 pm | Symposium
5:30 pm – 6:15 pm | Gala Reception
6:15 pm – 9:30 pm | Gala Dinner & Evening Program 

Please join us for a spectacular Sunday afternoon and evening lineup of over 18 speakers, special guests and IGNITE Award honorees!

As U.S.-China relations continue to make headline news, our Gala & Symposium will take you beyond the headlines, share new insights into China’s economy and consumer trends, and encourage substantive dialogue.

Our IGNITE Awards honor those individuals who have made significant contributions to furthering the understanding between our two countries, and to helping shape new perceptions of China, the Chinese and Chinese culture.

As the 1990 Institute’s mission is to deepen the cross-cultural understanding between our two countries and help foster more U.S.-China-savvy generations, this signature event brings together our community and raises much-needed dollars for our U.S.-China programs for students, teachers, women entrepreneurs and the general public.

We hope you will help support our new $1 million fundraising goal for 2017, as our grassroots work to strengthen U.S.-China relations is now more important than ever.  See you on March 5th!

Newly added this year is an afternoon Symposium program featuring three panels addressing different facets of the U.S. – China relationship.  Our speaker lineup includes: 

China’s Tech Innovation: The Next Battlegrounds (click for full description)
*this keynote may be moved to the Gala evening program

China’s Education System & Closing the Creativity Gap (click for full description)

  • Lenora Chu,  writer and author, Little Soldiers, a firsthand account of China’s education system
  • Dr. Quanyu Huang, Author, The Hybrid Tiger: Secrets of the Extraordinary Success of Asian-American Kids
  • Moderator: Clay DubeAssociate Director, USC U.S.-China Institute
Trump & Xi Jinping: What Lies Ahead? (click for full description)

  • John Pomfret, author, former Washington Post bureau chief in Beijing
  • Andy Rothman, Matthews Asia’s investment strategist
  • Yasheng Huang, MIT Sloan Professor of Chinese Economy and Business
  • Moderator: Kaiser KuoSinica Podcast host;  former Baidu executive
5th Gear:  Digital Media & Entertainment in China (full description)

  • Speaker to be announced
  • Moderator: James ChauTelevision News Anchor; formerly with CCTV & BBC


Immediately following the Symposium, our evening wine reception begins at 5:30pm, followed by a seated dinner at 6:15pm, featuring a special menu by Four Seasons’ Executive Chef, Alex La Motte.

Start your evening by meeting our two IGNITE Culinary Honorees and indulging in some of their creations:


Our Gala emcee is 1990 Institute board member Ben Fong-Torres, Emmy-winning co-anchor of the Chinese New Year Parade, Chronicle columnist, author, and a pioneer editor and writer at Rolling Stone magazine.


Following dinner, our evening program highlights include a live performance by special musical guest Wu Fei, a genre-bending guzheng virtuoso, live auction, and keynote fireside conversations with our IGNITE Award Honorees, who include:




James Chau, one of China’s most well-known television news anchors, will be sitting down with IGNITE award honorees, Liz Schimel and Bessie Lee, two of China’s most influential businesswomen. This fireside chat explore their personal journeys across the U.S. and China, consumer trends, and China’s transition from “Copied in China” to “Created in China,” to what it takes for American brands to succeed in China.  They will discuss areas such as:

  • The factors driving the shift from the “imitation” economy” to the new “creation economy” and the impact of Chinese millennials.
  • Original innovation from the likes of Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu and Xiaomi to thousands of nimble startups, whose valuations and access to capital rival Silicon Valley.
  • How Condé Nast and WPP — the world’s largest advertising & communications group — have helped fuel the evolution of China’s digital media, marketing and advertising industries, as well as the rise of local Chinese brands.
    WPP China’s Bessie Lee and her division employs 15,000 people in China and had revenues of $1.5 billion in 2015. Its top ad agencies include Ogilvy & Mather China and J. Walter Thompson China.


How will China shape the future of tech?  How does China’s tech scene compare with Silicon Valley? 

China’s tech industry buzz is no longer about besting global tech giants by adapting and bettering existing business models for the China market. It’s now about Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Didi Chuxing and others battling it out with Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, Google and other U.S. tech powerhouses in the hottest sectors of innovation, including artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality and augmented reality.

Andreesen Horowitz venture capitalist Connie Chan will sit down with Ya-Qin Zhang, President of Baidu (the “Google of China”), Alibaba’s Brian Wong and another special guest to discuss how top Chinese firms are pushing the limits of innovation through AI and other areas, taking advantage of China’s 800 million-plus internet user base, and changing our understanding of how technology fits into daily life — from transforming simple internet searches and product recommendations to transportation (self-driving cars and trucks), consumer retail experiences (robots, VR and AR), precision medicine, education and finance (including risk assessment in insurance & loans).

Without a doubt, China’ tech firms are formidable investors, partners, and competitors. Our panelists will share insider perspectives on the differences and similarities between Silicon Valley and China’s tech hubs such as Beijing’s Haidan district, Shanghai’s Zhanjian tech park, and Shenzen’s Nanshan district; their personal anecdotes working as Americans in leading Chinese tech companies, and what Silicon Valley might need to know.

Please check back for special guest announcements and program updates!

Share our printed invitation (PDF) with friends.

Go to Top