In his book, author Cheng Li argues that American policymakers must not lose sight of the expansive dynamism and diversity in present-day China.
Video: Weijian Shan's Life from Exile to Equity
The USC U.S.-China Institute and Asia Society hosted a talk with Weijian Shan, one of Asia’s best-known financiers, as he recounts his remarkable personal story of his exile to the Gobi Desert for hard labor at the age of 15 amidst the turmoil of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.
Weijian Shan is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PAG, a private equity firm. Prior to PAG, he was a Partner of TPG, a private equity firm based in San Francisco, and Co-Managing Partner of TPG Asia (formerly known as Newbridge Capital). Mr. Shan led a number of landmark transactions, including the acquisitions of Korea First Bank and China’s Shenzhen Development Bank, both of which made his investors billions of dollars in profits and were made into case studies at Harvard Business School. He previously was a Managing Director of J.P. Morgan, professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and a farm laborer in China’s Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia. Mr. Shan holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and M.B.A. from the University of San Francisco. He studied English at the Beijing Institute of Foreign Trade (now Beijing University of International Business and Economics), where he also taught as a faculty member.
Foreword by Janet Yellen
Weijian Shan's Out of the Gobi is a powerful memoir and commentary that will be one of the most important books on China of our time, one with the potential to re-shape how Americans view China, and how the Chinese view life in America.
Shan, a former hard laborer who is now one of Asia's best-known financiers, is thoughtful, observant, eloquent, and brutally honest, making him well-positioned to tell the story of a life that is a microcosm of modern China, and of how, improbably, that life became intertwined with America. Out of the Gobi draws a vivid picture of the raw human energy and the will to succeed against all odds.
Shan only finished elementary school when Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution tore his country apart. He was a witness to the brutality and absurdity of Mao’s policies during one of the most tumultuous eras in China’s history. Exiled to the Gobi Desert at age 15 and denied schooling for 10 years, he endured untold hardships without ever giving up his dream for an education. Shan’s improbable journey, from the Gobi to the “People’s Republic of Berkeley” and far beyond, is a uniquely American success story – told with a splash of humor, deep insight and rich and engaging detail.
This powerful and personal perspective on China and America will inform Americans' view of China, humanizing the country, while providing a rare view of America from the prism of a keen foreign observer who lived the American dream.
This event was co-sponsored by Asia Society Southern California.