AMM Cultural Spotlight: Asian American Business Development Center

John Wang established the Asian American Business Development Center (AABDC) in 1994 because he saw a need to promote greater recognition of Asian American businesses’ contributions to the general economy, and wanted to connect the U.S. and China on projects and investments at a private, corporate, provincial and municipal government level. 

AMM: What does the future hold for AABDC

John Wang: China is progressively evolving and becoming a dominant force in many aspects. AABDC’s position as an intermediary between so many US and Chinese companies, organizations, government agencies and municipalities puts us in a great position to lead the charge in new business development, investment, and cultural exchanges.

John Wang

AMM: How important is it for companies and organizations to explore relations and partnership with China?

JW: In many aspects it may already be too late to get into the Chinese market. The time is now to capitalize on China’s power and influence, and identify the right companies to align your business with for future success.

AMM: How can AABDC be a useful resource to US companies and organizations in building relations with China?

JW: AABDC has spent the past 20 years fostering close relations with Chinese municipal and provincial governments, chambers of commerce, and state owned corporations. These relationships with decision makers in China are vital to the success of any endeavor.

AMM: As relations between China and the US evolve how does this effect the future of Asian Americans?

JW: The growing relations between China and the US will overall have a positive impact for Asian Americans. The global increase of China’s influence over a variety of industries provides exposure to Asian Americans and Asian American business that has not been prevalent in the past.

AMM: What role do Asian Americans play in the broadening cultural and creative landscape of US China relations?

JW: Asian Americans represent the perfect blend of Asian culture with American ideologies. While they are in touch with their Asian roots, being raised in America gives them insight to what is important, and the differences between American and Chinese ways of thinking. Ultimately, Asian Americans are the individuals at the forefront of bridging US China relations while respecting the values and culture of both nations.

Since AABDC’s inception, the non-profit organization has created numerous programs, events, and initiatives that have established it as the coast-to-coast business face and voice of Asians in America.  

The 2018 Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Awards honorees, the 2018 Pinnacle Award honorees and AABDC CEO John Wang at the 2018 Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Awards Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York, NY on June 20, 2018. (Photo by Stephen Smith/Guest of a Guest)

AABDC’s flagship event, the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Award, remains the premier forum to highlight the achievements of Asian American business professionals across the U.S. The 17th annual award gala was held on June 20, 2018, marking the honoring of over 800 Asian Americans in 68 fields since 2001. The award recipients represent a microcosm of the best of Asian American entrepreneurs, professionals and corporate executives who are engaged in a wide range of business interests. This year, AABDC conferred its prestigious Pinnacle Award, the highest honor given to exceptional leaders in their industries, to Angela Chao, Chairman & CEO of Foremost Group, and Vivek Sankaran, President & COO of Frito-Lay North America. 

Angela Chao with John Wang

This black-tie gala has been generously sponsored by Fortune 500 companies, which join in the celebration of their Asian American talent and contribute to elevating the profile of the community’s best and brightest.

AABDC is also a bridge to China, an increasingly important market for businesses and a major global economic power. Since 2000, through AABDC’s affiliate organization the New York in China Center (NYICC), the organization has led 18 delegations of business owners, chambers of commerce members, and government officials to China to promote projects in the U.S., secure investments, establish working partnerships, and building lasting relationships between the two countries, with a particular focus on New York and Shanghai. In addition, NYICC also hosts several delegations a year of Chinese groups coming to the U.S. for similar purposes. 

An example of the partnerships is the recently established Sister City relationship formed in June of 2017 when Deputy District Governor of Songjiang District of Shanghai Long Wanli, and other government officials visited the Bronx to meet and sign an agreement with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

The arts also feature in NYICC’s projects. Working with artists and designers who want to gain a presence in the U.S., the center organizes related events. In 2016, the City of Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, engaged the NYICC to organize and present an art and cultural exhibition, “Elegance · Changzhou” held at Federal Hall National Memorial.

Artist Sun Yanyun demonstrates her work at The Elegance Changzhou Art Exhibition Reception at Federal Hall in New York, NY on July 13, 2016. (Photo by Stephen Smith)

Artist Sun Yanyan demonstrates her work at The Elegance Changzhou Art Exhibition Reception at Federal Hall in New York, NY on July 13, 2016. (Photo by Stephen Smith)

The three-day exhibition consisted of Changzhou cultural art, silk embroidery, paper cuts, and traditional paintings with over 90 works displayed, followed by a reception and a live auction at the Manhattan Asian Arts Lounge. Since then, NYICC has been contacted by several other Chinese cities looking to promote their cities’ own art and culture in the U.S. The center is also exploring the potential of working with U.S. artists and collectors to organize exhibits, shows, and auction events in China’s rapidly growing arts and fashion scene.