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Weijian Shan on his journey from the Gobi Desert to a becoming a successful financier

October 30, 2019
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Weijian Shan gave a lively talk at USC highlighting his experiences as a "sent-down youth" during China's Cultural Revolution. As an adolescent, he was shipped off to join a work team in Inner Mongolia. Watch his at times humorous and at times truly sad talk below (or at our YouTube channel). Our short interview with Shan about the book is available at our website and YouTube channel.

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

 

 

 

About the Author

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.

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Events

April 9, 2020 - 4:00pm

Please join the USC U.S.-China Institute for an online talk with Julia Strauss on her new book, which focuses on the period 1949 to 1954 and compares how the Communist Party in China and the Nationalist Party in Taiwan sought to consolidate their authority and foster economic development.

April 16, 2020 - 4:00pm

The USC U.S.-China institute presents a webcast with award-winning journalist Dexter Robert. His new book explores the reality behind today’s financially-ascendant China and pulls the curtain back on how the Chinese manufacturing machine is actually powered.