Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Shanghai Social Diary

A reception was held at One Xintiandi, a private club located in an 1900 original house in Shanghai, to kick off US/China Green Tech Summit.
by Jeanne Lawrence

When I moved to Shanghai, I had no idea how much cross dialogue I would have with people who also are coming to the city to stay for a while or simply passing through.

One connection I recently enjoyed was with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom whom I know from the time I’ve spent living in the Bay Area.

Newsom came to Shanghai to launch ChinaSF, a new initiative aimed at strengthening economic ties between San Francisco and China. San Francisco has even opened an office — the privately funded China desk — in Shanghai to help Chinese companies locate to the city.
Co-Chair Vincent Lo launches the ChinaSF Initiative
Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco visits Shanghai, its sister city Phil Ting, Assessor-Recorder of SF
The Mayor was also proud to announce that China Daily, the national English speaking newspaper, was setting up an office in San Francisco.

Tom Chin and Ann Hsu, Special Advisor to ChinaSF
The Mayor and his new wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom landed in Shanghai — San Francisco’s sister city since 1979 — with a large delegation from California, including San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting.

The group didn’t even have time to recover from jet lag before they headed to official receptions, conferences and meetings on this busy three-day trip.

Their first stop was a private reception hosted by the renowned Hong Kong developer and ChinaSF co-chair Vincent Lo in Xintiandi, which he developed in 2000 as CEO of Shui on Land.

Located in the heart of the city, Xintiandi is one of the hottest new entertainment districts in Shanghai (for locals and visitors), which also includes residential units, offices and a five-star hotel.

ChinaSF’s other co-chair is venture capitalist Dick Kramlich of New Enterprises with offices in both Shanghai and Silicon Valley.
China Daily, the English language newspaper, establishes an office in SF
Jennifer Newsom and Loretta Chu Mark Chandler and Nathan Ballard from the SF Mayor's Office
Po Chi Wu and VC Jennifer Yan VC's Alex and Laurette Hartigan
Reception packs the house
Early the next morning the Mayor and his entourage headed to the first US/China Green Tech Summit that took place at the modern new Hyatt on the Bund with the most mesmerizing views of Pudong, the Bund, and the Huangpu River.

The conference, sponsored by the Bay Area Council, brought together 400 business leaders, entrepreneurs and policymakers from the US and China to discuss investment opportunities in China’s burgeoning clean teach industry along with ways the countries can work together to solve global environmental problems.

I overhead someone say, “this is a high-powered group,” and I would agree. Take a look at some of the speakers.
Lobby view of the new Hyatt on the Bund, location of the Summit
Chen Anjie, Secretary of Shanghai's Yangpu District Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of Bay Area Council
Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, City and County Vincent Lo, CEO of Shui On Land and President of Yangtze Council
Mart Bailey, founder of Callaway Venture Partners and the US China Green Tech Conference Series (others were held in San Francisco and Beijing), kicked off the Shanghai summit.

News anchor Kathy Cui moderates
Bay Area Council President Jim Wunderman and Shanghai’s Yangpu district Party Secretary Chen Anjie also delivered opening remarks along with Vincent Lo, President of Yangtze Council, Mayor Newsom and Kong Qingwei, GM of Shanghai Urban Development.

“It’s no longer America leading the way and China reacting,” said Newsom during his address. “It’s starting to go the other way around. This is a call to arms to all our American leaders, and admiration for Chinese leaders in this room for showing the way. Thank you for your example of standing up and stepping in as America has walked away.”

The conference featured presentations on clean tech in China and ways to further commercialize it. Gary Rieschel of Qiming Ventures, for example, spoke about the risks of investing in China’s green industries.

Peggy Liu, who was named one of Time Magazine’s 2008 Environmental Heroes, discussed sustainable development.
Jennifer Newsom and Jeanne Lawrence SF Architect Sylvia Kwan
Panelist VC Scott Sandell of New Enterprise based in Silicon Valley Council board member Skip Whitney and David Nieh, GM of Shui On Land
Just one of many panel discussions
Asia Society's Freda Wang, Bruce Pickering, and Judi Kilachand Summit founder Mark Bailey of Callaway Private Equity
Ellen Carberry, co-founder of Cleantech China Initiative Mayor Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Newsom
Other speakers included: GM of China Telecom Shanghai, Dr. Zhang Weihua; Vice Chancellor for Research, University of California Davis, Dr. Barry Klein; GM China’s, Dr. David Chen; and Steve Westly of Westly Group.

And more: Tishman Speyer’s Daniel Nall, GM of Shui On Land David Nieh, Cleantech China Initiative’s Ellen Carberry, NEA’s Scott Sandell, Sierra Asia’s Paula Beroza, Asia Society of Northern California’s Bruce Pickering, Chinavest’s Robert Theleen, and Samuel Yang, founder & CEO of JA Solar.
Closing cocktails at Hyatt's Vue Bar with a spectacular view of Pudong, the new financial center

While in Shanghai, I often find myself making connections with remarkable people with strong East-West ties. The latest was when I received a wonderful invitation to celebrate from Yue-Sai Kan, the celebrity/entrepreneur/cosmetic tycoon who floats among her homes in New York, Shanghai and Beijing.

Sophie von Haselberg celebrates her birthday in Shanghai — given by Yue-Sai Kan
The invite was for a dinner party at Yue-Sai's full-floor penthouse in Shanghai in honor of the 21st birthday of Sophie von Haselberg, daughter of American superstar Bette Midler.

Over the years I’ve seen Sophie with her mother around Manhattan, particularly at ballet events as Sophie, I think, once studied at the School of American Ballet.

After graduating from New York's Fieldston High School, Sophie attended Yale where she studied Sociology with a concentration in East Asian Studies. This year, she moved to the new frontier— China — and is working at the international advertising agency BBDO.

Always the gracious hostess, Yue-Sai constantly puts out the welcome mat and entertains so many at her various homes. She says she prefers being at home to going out, as her celebrity status often garners too much attention.

China-born but raised in Hong Kong, Yue-Sai moved to NYC in 1972 and cut quite a swath there. When I first announced I was moving to Shanghai for the year, it seemed as if 99 percent of my friends asked, “Oh, do you know Yue-Sai.” I did — in a Six Degrees of Separation sort of way.

It wasn’t until we met up again in Shanghai that I realized how many things she’s accomplished. Or should I say, that I realized that there’s not much she hasn’t accomplished.

I discovered that People magazine named her the most famous women in China and that she has star power. Beginning in 1978 she had her own weekly TV series for 12 years, Looking East, that introduced Asian culture and customs to an American audience. The show is the reason she is often credited as the first TV journalist to link East and West.
Foyer of Yue-Sai's Shanghai home
Katie Campo and Alyson Ahearn Adrianna Mannering, Jenny Dou, and musician Xiaocen Shen
Jeanne Lawrence with Yue-Sai Toby Collins and Wendy Yuen
Yue-Sai surrounded by friends
Andrew Polins, Luke Van Duyn, and Joanna Cappo Scrumptious buffet prepared by her private chef
Gifts for the birthday girl Music to celebrate
Luke Van Duyn and Allison Gorsuch Sophie enjoying the moment
Then in 1986 she hosted a weekly TV program One World on China Central Television, which introduced Chinese audiences to cultures around the world.

In 1992, she founded Yue-Sai Cosmetics, which quickly became one of China's leading beauty brands and was acquired by L’Oreal in 2004.

In 2006, she launched another TV series Yue-Sai’s World, a 45-minute weekly show that featured celebrities and culture from around world and that is said to have aired to an audience of 800 million Chinese.
YSK cuts up during photo shoot
As if that isn't enough, she also founded the House of Yue-Sai, a lifestyle store with an impressive selection of furniture, bedding, tabletop, lighting, gifts and decorative accessories.

Always a smart entrepreneur, when Yue-Sai saw the economy slowing down she changed her focus to the interior design part of her business.
House of Yue-Sai, a lifestyle conception
Store Interior
Fabulous China selection
Now, back to the Sophie’s birthday dinner. The guest list was an international mix of mostly young people: Americans, Chinese, Chinese-Americans, French, Belgians, Italians and more.

With its fast-growing economy, emerging markets and bustling nightlife, Shanghai has prompted a large group of foreign young people to call the city home. These Expats from around the globe connect quickly and easily, so a large crowd turned up to celebrate.
YSK's favorite sculpture. Inset: Memorabilia of the famous Yue-Sai bob.
For example, in the crowd were LA’s Allison Gorsuch, who works at Pearl Lam’s Contrast Gallery; Belgian art dealer Irina Berko, owner of Berko Gallery; American Andrew Polins, director of China operations for the retail chain The Children's Place; Belgian Maximin Berko, who launched the Shanghai Fine Jewelry and Art Fair last year; and American interior designer Luke Van Duyn, just to name a few.

With a scrumptious Chinese buffet, prepared by Yue-Sai's private chef and seating arrangements that allowed guests to float from group to group and easily converse, the party's ambience was warm and friendly.
Dining al fresco
Conversations late into the night
As this was Sophie’s 21st birthday, the party didn't stop there. After dinner the younger set continued the celebration at M1NT Shanghai, a newly opened exclusive private members club.

Yue-Sai was back in New York City for the holidays to celebrate with her three sisters. Facilitating the East-West connection again, she began 2009 with a huge New Year’s Day luncheon for her many friends at her spacious Sutton Place townhouse overlooking a private garden and views of the East River. The next day she flew back to Shanghai.
Back in NYC at her Sutton Place Townhouse to celebrate New Year's
Clockwise from top left: NY townhouse's luxurious formal drawing room; Paintings by Yue-Sai's father, the late Wing-Lin Kan, a celebrated artist; Garden views from Yue-Sai's Sutton Place townhouse.
Children enjoy the family room
Stephanie Lawrence chats with famed photographer Patrick McMullan Sally Wu, Lisa Kwok with Maria Snyder, who is launching two brands in Shanghai
Memorabilia on staircase landing

Photographs by Jeanne Lawrence

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