The China World Summit Wing Hotel in Beijing set the stage for the 2023 AmCham China Annual General Meeting on Thursday, November 16. The event, bustling with enthusiasm and energy, marked a significant moment as members of the American business community in China gathered to celebrate another year of achievements and collaborations.
Michael Hart, President of AmCham China, warmly welcomed everyone, expressing gratitude to the event sponsors – Vermeer, Microsoft, the Women Empowerment Council, AbbVie, and Intel. He then invited Colm Rafferty, Chairman of AmCham China, to the stage.
Rafferty reflected on what he described as an extraordinarily intriguing year. His experience, spanning multiple terms as Vice Chair, Governor, and now as Chairman, lent depth to his observations about the evolving business landscape.
He emphasized the pivotal role of American businesses in China, stating they serve as a stabilizing force in the bilateral relationship. He highlighted their significant contributions, not just in terms of business but in fostering people-to-people interactions and embodying core American values. These values, he noted, include a strong commitment to labor rights, intellectual property protection, environmental consciousness, anti-corruption measures, and the rule of law. Rafferty emphasized that AmCham China’s aim is to act as a beacon for these principles, ensuring that American businesses continue to positively influence China’s economic landscape.
He proudly reflected on AmCham China’s achievements over the year, particularly highlighting the organization’s advocacy work. This included significant ministerial meetings and the DC Doorknock, which fostered high-level government-to-government talks. He expressed satisfaction with the recent series of Cabinet-level meetings and the Presidents’ meeting in San Francisco, viewing them as fruits of AmCham China’s dedicated advocacy.
Rafferty acknowledged the contributions of the 2023 Board, especially Vice Chairs Roberta Lipson and Gloria Xu. He praised their dedication and involvement, which he deemed critical to the year’s successes. Rafferty also gave a special mention to Ashwin Kaja, the General Counsel, for his tireless work in revising the organization’s Constitution, thereby setting a strong foundation for the future.
Concluding his remarks, Rafferty shared the Chamber’s vision – to be a member-driven organization dedicated to improving business conditions in China and fostering sustainable US-China economic relations – and shared the Chamber’s four core values of integrity, collaboration, leadership, and independence. His speech not only celebrated the past year’s accomplishments but also set a tone of optimism and resolve for the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Rafferty then presented the Pioneer Award, which is designed to celebrate those whose professional contributions and personal character represent America’s stories in entrepreneurship, business success, innovation, and humanity. This year’s recipient was Sean Stein, a senior advisor in Covington’s Public Policy Practice Group, the former US Consul General in Shanghai, and the current Chairman of AmCham Shanghai. Stein, who was in San Francisco to attend the ongoing APEC meetings, accepted the award via video message.
The Chairman’s Service Award went to Su Cheng Harris-Simpson and Dinah Watkins, recognizing their exceptional contributions and service and acknowledging the joy they have brought to the AmCham China community through the Charity Ball over many years. Rafferty read out some words on behalf of Dinah Watkins, who was unable to attend in person, while Su-Cheng Harris Simpson delivered a heartfelt speech about the treasured memories created by the American Balls over the past two decades.
Next up were the Committee of the Year Awards. Presented by Michael Hart, these awards recognized the outstanding work of the Cosmetics and Nutrition Committee (Jane Yan – Amway, Qian Wu – P&G, Chunhui Xu – GCC CNPERMIT, Frida Liu – Johnson & Johnson, and Dandan Li – AmCham China Committee Manager), and the Legal Affairs Committee, acknowledging the leadership of Michael Liu – Hylands Law Firm, Susan Munro – K&L Gates, Scott Palmer – Perkins Coie, and Ada Yang – AmCham China Committee Manager.
A moment of gratitude was extended to the outgoing members of the Board of Governors, followed by a group photo of the 2023 Board, showcasing the commitment and dedication of these leaders.
William Zarit led the introduction of candidates for the upcoming Board election, providing a platform for them to share their vision and aspirations. 12 candidates are running for seven open Board seats, and each one was each given two minutes to present to the audience. To see the full list of candidates, click here.
Before the evening’s festivities finished, Su Cheng Harris-Simpson highlighted the significance of the Leadership Development Program (LDP), celebrating the achievements of this year’s cohort with a group photo.
The event concluded with closing remarks, wrapping up an evening that was not just a celebration but a reaffirmation of the Chamber’s commitment to fostering US-China business relations. The 2023 AGM was a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the American business community in China and the evening not only honored the past year’s triumphs, but also set the stage for future endeavors.