China Institute to Honor Four Extraordinary Individuals at annual Blue Cloud Gala on November 25, 2019

November 14, 2019

NEW YORK, October 30, 2019: China Institute brings together leading figures in the arts, business, philanthropy, culture, and education to celebrate its 2019 Blue Cloud Gala on November 25 at The Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York City.

Named for the “Qingyun” or “Blue Cloud”, our Blue Cloud Award represents the traditional Chinese symbol of high virtue and status. Since 1984, China Institute bestows this honor on inspiring people whose exceptional achievements contribute significantly to U.S.-China friendship and understanding.

This year, we recognize Zhang Huan, Pin Ni, and Sophia Sheng and present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Ezra Vogel.

ZHANG HUAN, Visual and Performance Artist: Zhang Huan is one of the most vital, influential and provocative contemporary artists working today. Notable one-person exhibitions and installations include: Altered States (2007–08) at the Asia Society, New York; Three-Legged Buddha, Royal Academy of Arts, Annenberg Courtyard, London (2007–08); Dawn of Time, Shanghai Art Museum (2010); Hope Tunnel, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2010), Soul and Matter, Forte di Belvedere and Palazzo Vecchio (2013); Evoking Tradition, Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York (2014); and My Temple, Saltzburg, Austria (2015). In 2018, MoMA PS1, New York, exhibited Land: Zhang Huan and Li Binyuan.

PIN NI, President, Wanxiang America Corporation: Pin Ni is the President of Wanxiang America Corporation, the company he started in 1994.  The company’s revenue has grown to $4 Billion to date, incorporating automotive, clean energy, and real estate investments and advancements with operations in 27 U.S. states. Mr. Ni serves as vice chair of China General Chamber of Commerce – USA and board director of World Business Chicago, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and The Nature Conservancy Illinois Chapter. He is a member of the Northwestern University Board of Trustees and the Advisory Board of the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy.

SOPHIA SHENG, China Institute Trustee and Art Patron: Mrs. Sheng is an avid collector of Chinese contemporary art and she is on the Board of the Newark Museum helping to promote Asians’ involvement in arts and culture. She is an active supporter of the Academy of Arts and The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu. Recently she and her husband, Abel, were supporters of the Performa07 and Cai Guo Qiang’s “Another New Year” event in New York.

Sophia Sheng received a BS in Math and managed several departments of programmers and engineers in IBM’s Internal Telecommunication area until 1984, when she left her career to spend more time with her daughter.

A special Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to:

EZRA VOGEL, Professor, Harvard University: Ezra Vogel is the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences Emeritus at Harvard. After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan in 1950 he received his Ph.D. in 1958. Vogel succeeded John Fairbank to become the second Director (1972-1977) of Harvard’s East Asian Research Center and Chairman of the Council for East Asian Studies (1977-1980). He was Director of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at the Center for International Affairs (1980-1987) and, since 1987, Honorary Director. He was Chairman of the undergraduate concentration in East Asian Studies from its inception in 1972 until 1991. He was Director of the Fairbank Center (1995-1999) and the first Director of the Asia Center (1997-1999).


We are proud to welcome back Arthur Ch’ien, WNYW Fox 5 contributor and Emmy Award winning journalist, as our master of ceremonies for the Blue Cloud Gala.

“The Blue Cloud Gala is the most important, and highest-profile, event China Institute holds all year. Our mission to deepen trust and understanding between China and the United States is exemplified by our distinguished honorees, and their varied contributions to enhanced relations are as extraordinary as they are diverse. We are so very proud to recognize their achievements with our Blue Cloud award and look forward to sharing a spectacular evening with our many prominent guests and our growing community,” says China Institute President James B. Heimowitz.

More information available on the gala website:


Chien Chung Pei, Board Co-Chair
Yue-Sai Kan, Board Co-Chair
Anla Cheng, Gala Chair


About China Institute

China Institute advances a deeper understanding of China through programs in education, culture, art, and business. China Institute is the go-to resource on China—from ancient art to today’s business landscape and its rapidly shifting culture. Our programs, school, and gallery exhibitions bring to life the depth, complexity and dynamism of China. Founded in 1926 by leading reformers Hu Shi, K.P. Wen, John Dewey, and Paul Monroe, China Institute is the oldest bicultural, non-profit organization in America to focus exclusively on China.


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