Robert Sun: From diplomatic circles to US business world
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.
Robert Sun (front left) signed a strategic cooperation plan with a local company.