‘Global citizen’ becomes head of C-100
China by blood, America by choice and Europe by invitation. That’s how Clarence Kwan, the new chairman of the non-profit organization Committee of 100, describes himself as a global citizen who has been promoting US-China relations for the past three decades.
Kwan, 60, a senior partner at Sino-Century China PE Partners, on Friday becomes the chairman of the committee, which focuses on building constructive relations between the world’s two largest economies.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Kwan came to the US for college in 1972. For almost 35 years, he worked in financial advisory and management with Deloitte in the US, China and Eastern Europe, including being a founding partner of Deloitte Czech Republic.
“I see myself as a global citizen,” said Kwan, whose parents lived in Mexico and became Mexican citizens before they moved to Hong Kong where Kwan was born.
A Chinese American with veteran experience in business consulting helping Chinese and US firms to invest in the world’s two biggest economies, Kwan said he is ready to help maximize the impact of the committee.
“We are an organization of leaders with many winners and champions and our goal is to mobilize all our leaders and turn our organization from a team of champion into a championship team,” said Kwan.
Founded in 1990, the committee’s founding members included leading architect I.M. Pei, famous musician Yo Yo Ma, and a former executive with General Motors, Shirley Young.
One unique element about the organization is the mix of the founder members and the current 150 members of the committee — mostly Chinese Americans who come from all walks of life, including business leaders, artists, politicians — with the same goal: to promote a better understanding between the two largest economies.
“That reflects the different level of potential collaborations between the US and China,” said Kwan.
“The members’ unique experience about China and the US makes them perfect ‘goodwill ambassadors’ to bring the two peoples closer.”
“If we can get each of them to start thinking about this important issue, we will be very successful,” he said.
As a veteran financial expert, Kwan said collaborations in areas beyond economic will help build a good platform for the two peoples to strength mutual understanding.
“The multi-facet interactions between the two peoples are excellent progress in this relationship,” said Kwan, who has been involved in functions with ChineseAmerican communities in the US, including acting as treasurer of the Museum of Chinese in America.
But Kwan cautions that some “realistic” thinking should be put in China-US relations, one of the most important relationships in the 21st century.
“For these two major countries to have no conflicts and no confrontations, that may not be that realistic,” said Kwan.
Calling the “new type of major-country relationship” — which leaders from both China and the US are committed to — a good inspiration, Kwan said people-topeople ties that the committee is trying to promote will be a vital basis for this goal.
“Of course, politics plays a role there, but people have to get behind the issues to make sure the politicians are doing the right thing,” said Kwan.
The interdependent relations of the US and China make them two important players in global and regional issues, many of which, Kwan said, may be sensitive and require the two sides to work harder at finding solutions together.