Robert Sun: From diplo­matic cir­cles to US busi­ness world

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By WANG JUN in Los Angeles wangjun@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Robert Sun looks more like a diplo­mat than a busi­ness­man.

The rea­son may be that be­fore com­ing to the United States in 1984 as a rare Chi­nese in­ter­na­tional stu­dent, Sun was a pro­fes­sional diplo­mat in China for seven years.

He worked at the for­eign af­fairs of­fice of the tourism city of Guilin, in Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion, af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Zhe­jiang Univer­sity in 1977, where he ma­jored in English lan­guage.

“We had a very big work­load re­ceiv­ing for­eign del­e­ga­tions vis­it­ing Guilin or by­pass­ing— at that time, al­most all vis­i­tors to China went through Hong Kong, which is not far away from Guilin,” Sun re­called.

Sun was born in Mu­dan­jiang in north­ern China’s Hei­longjiang prov­ince and raised in Ningbo, East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince. As a teenager, he dreamed of ex­plor­ing the world out­side of China. Deal­ing with the vis­it­ing groups from for­eign coun­tries reignited that dream.

“People from a US chan­cel­lor del­e­ga­tion were es­pe­cially kind. They asked me if I was will­ing to study in the United States?” Sun re­called. “Not long af­ter they re­turned to the US, an of­fer let­ter ar­rived.”

He couldn’t ac­cept the first of­fer, but his new­found friends sent him the of­fer for two con­sec­u­tive years, and even started a foun­da­tion to pay for Sun’s tu­ition and liv­ing ex­penses at school.

“I’ve al­ways been grate­ful for them; they be­came my life-long friends,” he said.

With the US gen­eral con­sul in Guangzhou’s help to

Born: 1955 • BA, Zhe­jiang Univer­sity • MBA, Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, River­side • Diplo­mat, for­eign af­fairs of­fice, city of Guilin, China (1977 – 1984) • Founder and Chair­man of Dis­cov­ery Med­i­cal (1989 – present) re­solve a last-minute flight prob­lem, Sun ar­rived at Los Angeles In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Sept 2, 1984, to at­tend grad­u­ate school at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, River­side School of Busi­ness. “I never for­get how ex­cited I was,’’ he said. “It was a dream com­ing true!”

Sun earned his MBA from UC River­side. His ar­eas of study were in­ter­na­tional rel ations and busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Dur­ing that time, China’s open­ing-up had drawn the world’s at­ten­tion, and Sun was in­vited to speak at more than 30 lo­cal Ro­tary clubs about China.

He grad­u­ated in 1987 and was of­fered a job as gen­eral manger of a Hong Kong-based trade com­pany. Two years later, he started his own com­pany, Dis­cov­ery Med­i­cal Inc, a man­u­fac­turer of in­fec­tion con­trol prod­ucts based in Cal­i­for­nia with five fac­to­ries in China’s Zhe­jiang and Shan­dong prov­inces.

In 1996, Sun and four busi­ness friends from China ini­ti­ated and founded the Chi­nese CEO Or­ga­ni­za­tion in the US. He was di­rec­tor for three terms and as pres­i­dent for two terms. In 2005, Sun saw the need to en­hance US busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives’ un­der­stand­ing of China and founded the Amer­i­canChi­nese CEO So­ci­ety. Mem­ber­ship is open to all com­pany CEOs who do busi­ness be­tween the US and China.

As Pres­i­dent of Chi­nese CEO Or­ga­ni­za­tion and Amer­i­can- Chi­nese CEO So­ci­ety, Sun has led US CEO del­e­ga­tions to China nu­mer­ous times for of­fi­cial vis­its and met with cen­tral govern­ment lead­ers, min­is­ters, provin­cial gov­er­nors, city may­ors and busi­ness lead­ers.

As a busi­ness owner and ex­ec­u­tive who has been liv­ing in the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, Sun said it’s ex­cit­ing watch­ing the US-China re­la­tion grow stronger and stronger over the years, but, he added, “The two na­tions still know each other very lit­tle.”

Sun also has been nom­i­nated as eco­nomic ad­viser to sev­eral Chi­nese prov­inces and cities, in­clud­ing Dalian in Liaon­ing prov­ince, Ji­nan in Shan­dong prov­ince, Ningbo in Zhe­jiang prov­ince and Jiangxi prov­ince.

Sun has also been nom­i­nated to the Asian-Amer­i­can Con­gres­sional Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee to US Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Linda Sanchez for Cal­i­for­nia’s 38th con­gres­sional district.

He has been a mem­ber of the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia River­side School of Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion Dean’s Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil since 2009.

In 2006, Sun was in­vited to at­tend the White House wel­com­ing cer­e­mony for then Chi­nese pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao and his of­fi­cial del­e­ga­tion. In 2012, Sun par­tic­i­pated in an­other wel­com­ing cer­e­mony, this time for Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and his del­e­ga­tion in Los Angeles at the US China Trade Sum­mit and its grand ban­quet.

WANG JUN / CHINA DAILY

Robert Sun (front left) signed a strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion plan with a lo­cal com­pany.

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