This event has concluded.  Photos & recap coming soon.  See our Gala program booklet here.

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

2:00 pm – 5:30 pm | Symposium
5:30 pm – 6:15 pm | Gala Reception
6:15 pm – 9:30 pm | Gala Dinner & Evening Program

 TICKETS:  Sold out



UPDATE:  Our afternoon Symposium now starts earlier — 2:00pm.


We are pleased to announce that Alibaba Entertainment executive and  Youku founder Victor Koo has confirmed as our opening Symposium Keynote speaker and newest IGNITE Award Honoree.  

Victor is the former Chairman and CEO of the streaming giant Youku Tudou — dubbed “the Netflix and YouTube of China” and acquired by Alibaba in 2016  He now leads investment activities and strategy for Alibaba’s  Digital Media and Entertainment Group.  This new entity, which includes SCMP, gaming and content divisions like Alibaba Pictures and its newest partnership with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Pictures, was formed after consolidation of Alibaba’s media & entertainment businesses.  It aims to invest over $7.2 billion in the sector in the next 3 years.


Our Symposium technology panel has now moved to the Gala evening program.  Due to a last minute cancellation by our Baidu guest speaker, Andreessen Horowitz’s  Connie Chan will sit down with Alibaba Vice President Brian Wong to discuss how China and its top technology firms are leading globalization, and how they are putting their own stamp on innovation.  They will also discuss China’s tech scene and how it compares today with Silicon Valley.  More details below. 

PLEASE JOIN US FOR A SPECTACULAR SUNDAY afternoon and evening lineup of over 18 speakers, special guests,  great keynote speakers, and incredible.  Join us at 2:00pm Sunday to celebrate our five IGNITE Award honorees:

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

Our evening also celebrates our IGNITE Award Honorees — those individuals who are making significant contributions to furthering the understanding between our two countries, and to helping shape new perceptions of China, the Chinese, and Chinese culture. 

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.  Our signature Gala & Symposium event brings together our community and raises much-needed dollars for our U.S.-China programs for youth, teachers, women entrepreneurs and the public.

We hope you will engage with us more deeply this year and help support our new $1 million fundraising goal for 2017 — our grassroots work at the people-to-people level to strengthen U.S-Sino relations is now more important than ever.  See you on March 5th!

Our inaugural symposium features three panels addressing different facets of the U.S. – China relationship:

Keynote |  China, Hollywood and the Future of Digital Media & Entertainment  (description)

  • Victor Koo, Youku Founder; Chairman, Alibaba Entertainment Group Strategy and Investment Committee; Founder and Chairman of Heyi Ventures
  • Moderator: James Chau, UN Goodwill Ambassador; Television News Anchor; formerly with CCTV & BBC
China’s Education System & Closing the Creativity Gap (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 DubeDirector, USC U.S.-China Institute
Trump & Xi Jinping: What Lies Ahead? (description)

  • John Pomfret, author nand 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


Immediately following the Symposium, our Gala evening wine & prosecco 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.

We’re delighted to be honoring our two IGNITE Culinary Honorees and starting your evening off a chance to indulge in some of their newest 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 — the genre-bending guzheng virtuoso, live auction, and TWO fireside conversations  — one with Alibaba’s Brian Wong and our main event, with IGNITE Award Honorees, Liz Schimel and Bessie Lee. 




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 is China and its top technology firms leading globalization?  How are these companies putting their own stamp on innovation?  How does China’s tech scene compare with Silicon Valley? 
Connie Chan, Partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz will sit down with Brian Wong, Vice President of Alibaba, to discuss how top Chinese firms are driving globalization efforts and pushing the limits of innovation in many areas, leveraging 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 (entertainment, robots, VR and AR).
Without a doubt, China’ tech firms are formidable investors, partners, and competitors. Brian, a former staffer for Mayor Willie Brown and one of the first Americans to work at Alibaba, will share his insider perspective on the globalization efforts underway in business and beyond, and discuss how China is creating its own approach to e-commerce, global trade and fintech, and blazing a new approach on how to engage global markets.
Don’t miss his personal anecdotes of his experiences in China working closely with the founding Alibaba team, where he sees things are headed, and his insights into how Silicon Valley and China can constructively learn from each other, and address some of the world’s most challenging problems.

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