A quarterly update for University of Oxford China alumni and friends
Welcome to the June issue of CHINA THINKING. In the run-up to the London Olympics we look at sport at Oxford, talk to two alumni in China, Philip Sohmen Pao and Kenneth Fok, about their sporting and Olympics experiences and bring you behind the scenes of the Vice-Chancellor's trip to Asia last month.
Don’t forget to book your place at the Hong Kong and Beijing alumni events with Peter Tufano, Dean of the Said Business School, the Shanghai Oxford Ball and the Christ Church Cathedral Choir's tour to China. Read on for these and more events.
Have a wonderful summer!
From the Oxford China Office
June 2012 Issue
The latest roundup for China alumni and friends
The Olympics are coming to Oxford, and the University is excited to be involved with London 2012 in a variety of ways. The Iffley Road sports complex has been officially recognized as a Pre-Games training Camp, and Oxford will host the New Zealand Triathlon Team and the Chile Olympic Athletics Team. The University has also been invited by Samsung (an official worldwide partner of London 2012) to participate in the Olympic Torch relay, with an Oxford student and a member of staff who have ‘gone the extra mile’ selected to carry the Torch, which will arrive in Oxford on 9 July. The Torch will be hosted at the Iffley Road sports complex on 10 July, where Sir Roger Bannister, the first person to run the mile in less than 4 minutes, will lead a Torch Lighting Ceremony before it circles the track and heads out on Iffley Road on its way across the UK. [READ MORE]
Aung Sang Suu Kyi (St Hugh’s 1964) will visit Oxford for the first time since 1988 and will receive an honorary doctorate in civil law at Encaenia on 20 June. Daw Suu is an honorary fellow of St Hugh’s and St Anthony’s and patron of the International Studies Centre at Lady Margaret Hall. [READ MORE]
The Oxford and Cambridge Alumni in Myanmar Group has been set up by Suriya Rudarakanchana (Brasenose, 1969, Magdalen 1974). If you live in Myanmar or visit it frequently, please contact Suriya for a possible initial alumni gathering in Rangoon.
New China Alumni Leaders After its recent AGM, the Oxbridge Society Hong Kong has elected as its new President Jonathan Hui (Brasenose 1998). In Beijing, Dan O’Brien (Hertford 2000) departs the Oxbridge Club Beijing for pastures new in Hong Kong and passes the baton to new President Hannah Roe (Balliol). We wish them every success during their Presidency.
EMBA scholarships for alumni Don't miss the last chance to apply for the Said Business School's 10th anniversary scholarships for alumni. For entry in January 2013, applications will close on 31 July 2012. All Oxford alumni who matriculated and have gained a University of Oxford undergraduate or postgraduate qualification are eligible to apply for the 21 month EMBA course at the UK's No. 1 Executive Education Provider. Click here for more on the Oxford EMBA and how to apply or email Helen Robertson, Oxford EMBA Business Development Manager.
The Royal Geographic Society Hong Kong has recently given a major post-graduate award for doctoral research to Ms Haiyan Yu at the University of Oxford. Ms Yu’s research is focused on water resource management in the rural villages of arid North-western China.
OU Shops in China Licensees in China and Hong Kong for Oxford Limited, the University’s subsidiary company which operates retail and brand licensing programmes on behalf of the University of Oxford. Alumni are able to choose from a growing range of product featured on their website, www.oushop.com, and can arrange to have their purchases shipped to nearly anywhere in the world.
In addition, in order to protect the trademark of the University through use (and thereby stopping others from doing so) and to project the image of the University, Oxford Limited grants licenses to produce consumer products in a range of relevant consumer categories, around the world. In China, licensees have been appointed for men's apparel, children's apparel, scientific toys, school stationery and bags, and furniture (that reflects the unique lifestyle associated with the University). The list of locations where this product may be found is below, and the profits from this activity are sent back to the University to support teaching and learning.
New Town Shopping Mall of Best Buy, Bao Gung Avenue, Guangzhou Cloud 9 Shopping Mall, ChangNing Road, Shanghai Shi Mao Plaza, NanJin E. Road, Shanghai Garden Plaza, SherKo, ShangZhen, Guangdong
Oxford Kids (Childrenswear)
Guangzhou TianHe Zheng jia The Friendship Store Guangzhou Tianhe zhu Jiang New town Hua Cheng hui
The Oxford Collection (Furniture)
Alexandre Furniture, No 6, Fu Hua San Rd, Shenzen Tequila Kola, Horizon Plaza 2 Lee Wing, HK Tequila Kola, Prince's Building, Central. HK
Guangzhou baby city Dept. Store
Guangzhou Book Centre
Guangzhou Playtongtian Shop
Back to School
Stockists in China include: Jusco Hypermarket, Guangzhou Grandbuy department store Stockists in Hong Kong include: Wing On department store, Citistore, People Bookstore, Jusco Hypermarket
SPOTLIGHT ON ….. SPORT
In the run-up to the London Olympics, we take a look at Sport in Oxford.
Stephanie Cook (Lincoln 1994)who won the Modern Pentathlon in 2000
For most alumni, sport was an intrinsic part of student life at Oxford, whether it was the 6 am glide down the icy Isis, perfecting the hammerlock in rumba on the dance floor, or manoeuvering a puck under water in a thrilling game of Octopush. But did you know that Oxford provides facilities for 85 sports, the widest provision in the world?
In this Olympic year, the University is proud to celebrate the 153 Olympic medals that have already been won by Oxonians on behalf of many nations across the globe. Hundreds of alumni have participated and many more have been at the heart of helping to stage the modern Olympics. Sport has always played a pivotal role in creating rounded and successful individuals that can look back on their time as a scholar athlete at Oxford with great nostalgia.
With the dramatic growth in the number of sports that Oxford caters and the increasing popularity and success of disabled sport, there are now exciting plans to expand and upgrade Oxford’s now historic sporting facilities, to develop a truly world class facility to nurture and provide for athletes of all levels of experience, as well as to produce elite athletes that can compete on the world stage.
The Oxford Sports Campaign will support Oxford in building a culture of sporting excellence that will match the University’s approach to almost everything else it does. The plans include a new indoor multi-sport centre, featuring an eight-court and four-court hall, 1000m2 gymnasium, suite of multi-use studios, squash courts, fencing salle, martial arts dojo and training area for boxing and powerlifting, as well as a new indoor tennis centre featuring three indoor courts and six outdoor courts.
Philip Sohmen Pao (Magdalen 1996) in Shanghai looks back on his days carving up the pool while Kenneth Fok (Pembroke 1998) in Hong Kong ponders Olympic legacies.
Philip Sohmen (Magdalen, PPE, 1996) is the co-founder and Vice-Chairman of the Governors of the YK Pao School, a unique bilingual not-for-profit school in Shanghai, where he is a strong proponent of ‘whole person education’. A graduate of Eton (where he was Head Boy), the University of Oxford and Stanford University, Philip was heavily involved in sport and represented Hong Kong at the World Swimming Championships. Philip has worked in the US, Europe and Asia. He is a member of the Chinese People Political Consultative Conference in Shanghai, CEO of Hong Kong World Wide Education Group and a trustee of the Egon Sohmen Foundation, which promotes research in economics and contributes to the debate on important public policy issues. He is also a member of the Shanghai committee for the China Oxford Scholarship Fund.
Tell us about the sports that you played at Oxford and how you got started.
My Oxford days encompassed quite a lot of sport! My main focus was swimming and water polo which I had been doing competitively since school and continued with the university teams at Oxford over all three years, but I also did some College rowing, winning blades in a Magdalen 3rd VIII made up of ex-rowers who were too busy or carefree to take it more seriously, and somehow becoming social secretary for Magdalen Boat Club in the process. For fun I also got involved in the University Ultimate Frisbee club (a natural extension of frisbee in the quad) as well as the Mixed Lacrosse club (mainly for the pretty girls I recall) so had the chance to represent the university in four different sports. I’m not quite sure what time that left me to study.
How did Oxford nurture your talent in these sports?
I really enjoyed the amateur ethos of sport at Oxford – the fact that sports clubs were run by students with limited faculty involvement, and that beginners were welcomed and encouraged, and in many sports could even get to a level of representing the university. Competition was always tempered by the social side of sports. This was in contrast to the professionalism and exclusivity of university sports in the US where I attended graduate school. Sadly swimming and waterpolo at the time suffered from Oxford not having its own swimming pool. The new Rosenblatt pool has made a huge difference in this regard. However, biking up Headington Hill at night in the winter to get to the pool where we used to train in the evenings was a great lesson in determination!
What were the highest and lowest points of your sporting career?
We won in both swimming and waterpolo Varsity matches all three years that I was at Oxford and I was unbeaten in my main event. But the highest point was unquestionably winning the Swimming Varsity Match in my last year as Captain. It was a close battle, and could have gone either way. As Captain, the responsibility felt very heavy indeed and it was a huge boost to feel we could go home with heads high. Outside of Oxford, a highlight was competing in the World Swimming Championships for Hong Kong and getting to swim against some of the superstars I had idolized as a teenager.
The lowest point was the weekly routine of having to decline invitations to parties because of early morning training the next day, and struggling to keep eyes open in lectures afterwards.
How has sport shaped you as an individual?
Sport helped me understand what persistence and dedication mean; that while natural talent counts for a lot, hard work and practice counts for more. Through sports, I also learnt that leadership can make a huge difference to results through motivation and focus.
We hear a lot about lifelong learning. What are your views on the role of sport in life?
Sport provides amazing preparation of many skills needed in life – an ability to set and work towards goals, work in a team, deal with disappointments and loss. At a more simple level, it’s a fantastic natural way to discharge stress and recharge ones spirit. I still try to swim as much as I can and feel reborn every time I do. Sport is a wonderful opportunity for people to come together – I hope we can encourage less computer time and more sport time for people of all ages.
What do you admire?
I admire those Kenyan distance runners who float when they run. Having grown up in the water, I feel more like a hippo on land!
What’s your favourite place in Oxford?
The Cloister and quad at Magdalen. I won’t accept any debate on Magdalen being the most beautiful college and the quad there is quintessential Oxford as well as being the site of many memories of rambling philosophical discussions over Pimms.
And in Shanghai?
I love the tree-lined streets of the old French Concession. Walking under the plane trees is an escape from the madness of the city and a reflection in time. But even more than that is the swimming pool in my back garden, a luxurious watery escape.
Kenneth Fok (Pembroke, 1998, Economics and Management) is currently the Vice-President of the Fok Ying Tung Group and Honorary Deputy Secretary General of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China and President of the Gymnastics Association of Hong Kong, China. He is a former President of the Oxford and Cambridge Society of Hong Kong and he is also a trustee of the China Oxford Scholarship Fund.
Tell us about your involvement with the Olympic Committee of Hong Kong.
I am currently serving as the Honorary Deputy Secretary General within the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, the governing body of sports here. Hong Kong is very special since our IOC membership status was retained after the reunification with the Mainland in 1997. Besides managing the Hong Kong China team which competes in the Olympics every four years, we also send representatives to various international sporting competitions like the Asian Games and East Asian Games. We also participate in the promotion of sports and athlete development locally in Hong Kong.
Which has been your favourite Olympics?
I will have to say the Beijing Games in 2008. I have attended Atlanta 1996, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. Although all the Games had a different vibe, none I felt, was as strong as Beijing. Partly because I am Chinese, but Beijing’s sophisticated organisation, stunning venues and level of competition was really unparalleled. The hospitality offered by the volunteers as well as the locals were simply heartwarming. I remembered a volunteer driver told me he didn’t mind working late and was happiest when he had a chance to drive foreign delegates around because it gave him an opportunity to ‘practise his English and show them his hometown’. Their attitude really touched everyone’s heart. Like the athletes, the volunteers had in them the Olympic spirit.
The Olympic Games should be more than a two week celebration of sporting excellence. The Olympic legacy is paramount. I don't think any other Games in the modern Olympic era have left a stronger legacy than the Beijing Games. They touched the lives of average people in many ways, changing the way they lived and viewed the world and also the way they viewed themselves. People are proud to be Chinese and the Games provided a platform for them to show it.
What’s your ‘perfect-10’ Olympic moment?
For me, nothing compared to seeing 2008 drummers, beating on flashing drums, counting down the seconds to the opening of the Beijing Games. It was the culmination of seven years of hard work, anticipation and expectation, which was released along with the fireworks. It was a proud moment for each and every one of the 90,000 spectators inside the ‘Bird’s Nest’ which was shared with over 3 billion viewers around the world.
Tell us something we didn’t know about the Beijing Olympics.
The person chosen to light the cauldron was a heavily guarded secret. Later we learnt that this honour rested on the shoulder of ex-gymnastics champion Li-Ning, who ignited the cauldron after being hoisted high into the air and ‘running’ the circumference of the stadium. People who knew this reportedly had to swear to secrecy and of course, this included Li-Ning himself. His rehearsals were arranged under the cover of darkness and he jokingly mentioned that he always had a hard time explaining to his wife where he was going to in the middle of the night!
Who do you admire?
In every Olympics, champions are born and others retire. People do not necessarily always remember the gold medalists but the most memorable are the athletes who display the ultimate Olympic spirit and courage. In Beijing, I was touched by the determination of Natalie du Toit, the South African swimmer. She is an amputee who won 5 Gold medals at the 2008 Paralympics and also qualified for the Olympic Games for the first time and obtained 16th place in the women’s 10k marathon swimming race against other able-bodied competitors. She was a mere 1.22.2 minutes behind the winner and given her disability, it’s hard to imagine the work and determination she put in to achieve this feat. She might not have won gold but she surely inspired many.
Were you involved in sport in Oxford and do you continue to play sports now?
Looking back, I should have participated more in sports back in Oxford! I enjoyed playing tennis and golf for leisure which I still do now in Hong Kong. I especially enjoy golf as it’s a mentally challenging game. In essence, you are not competing against an opponent but against yourself. The course remains the same but you can have drastically different scores every time. I am glad that golf will become an Olympic Sport in Rio 2016!
What do you look forward to in London 2012?
I recently spent the Diamond Jubilee in London. The British certainly knows how to have a good time! I hope that the atmosphere and excitement I witnessed will be extended to the London Olympics. The most important aspect of the Olympics is the people’s participation. The London Olympics will not only celebrate athletes’ achievements but also British culture. The cultural Olympiad will involve more than 16 million people across the UK who have and will continue to attend performances, events and workshops. I have even attended events here, mainly organised by the British Consulate and British Council, bringing British athletes, artists and film makers to Hong Kong. Most countries are able to organise sporting competitions for the 28Olympic sports, but it is those countries who can also produce a welcoming and enjoyable experience and a strong legacy that will excel. I am sure London is more than capable of doing this.
Not least, I am also looking forward to the opening ceremony!
What’s your favourite place in Oxford?
One thing that typifies Oxford is the punting and even now, when I visit Oxford, I always stop by the Cherwell Boathouse for lunch and a punt if the weather is good! There is nothing that can beat the experience of punting down the river with a sandwich, Pimms and lemonade during the Oxford summer!
And in Hong Kong?
It’s hard to pin point a favourite spot per se. Hong Kong is so dynamic and changes all the time, as anyone here knows. I love the hustle and bustle of the city, but just a stone’s throw away from the city, there are lovely beaches and innumerable hiking trails. And of course the magnificent sea and the Victoria Harbour. I often enjoy a good walk in the countryside and when I’ve had enough, it’s just a $30 taxi ride to Lan Kwai Fong! That’s something you don’t get anywhere else in the world.
UNDERCOVER with the VICE-CHANCELLOR
A behind-the scenes look at the Vice-Chancellor’s East Asia trip
What does a cheeky monkey, artemisinin and a robotic car all have in common?
These and other Oxford connections were all celebrated during the recent Vice-Chancellor’s weeklong trip to East Asia. The excitement of the trip started to build with the publication of a full page profile of the Vice-Chancellor in the Hong Kong Economic Journal. Besides getting his views on what makes a successful Oxford applicant, journalist and Oxford China Office staff Dr Mimi Mo (Christ Church, 2003) also managed to find proof of the Vice-Chancellor’s nascent scientific skills at the tender age of 3. , (see image below)
Such promising beginnings heralded the arrival of Prof. Hamilton and his wife Jennie, to a warm welcome at the Football Club at an event which overflowed with plentiful alumni and friends. Frank Choi (Univ 2006), Rebecca Lim (St Hilda’s 2006) and Ryan Wong (St Catz 2006), serenaded guests before a presentation by Prof. Russell Foster, Oxford’s foremost expert on circadian neuroscience. He enthralled the audience about the consequences of sleep deprivation and a 24/7 society, before a vigorous Q & A session chaired by Jonathan Hui (Brasenose 1998), President of the Oxbridge Society.
Vice Chancellor (left), age 3 Alumni musicians at the HK Alumni Event
Prof. Foster talks to gifted students in HK. A storytelling session with Cheeky Monkey in HK
Students participating in the Hong Kong Academy of Gifted Education programmes were also put through their paces the day before by Prof. Foster, who proved himself a most popular teacher when he suggested a later start to the school day to suit the teenage body clock.
Throwing Prof. Foster’s caution to the wind, Prof. Hamilton jettisoned sleep for a early morning meeting with the Chief Executive-elect and a RTHK interview with presenter Vanessa Collingridge (Hertford 1986) and fellow guest Stephen Tommis (Jesus 1974), head of the Academy of Gifted Education.
The highlight of the day came in the form of Cheeky, a giant monkey. Prof. Hamilton encountered the mascot for Oxford University Press’ new Oxford Path learning centre where he turned storyteller for the afternoon. To an audience of likely candidates for Oxford in 2025, he reminisced about his late mother who instilled in him a love of reading, a fitting tribute on Mother’s Day.
Vice-Chancellor with Dr Guo Shuqing Opening of the OU (Beijing) Science and Tech Ltd.
Celebrations of medical sciences in Beijing NDM guests and Oxford alumni in Beijing
Traffic in the airspace and roads of Beijing couldn’t stop the irrepressible Vice-Chancellor, who was joined by colleagues from the Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM) in Beijing. Oxford and China’s medical sciences collaborations were highlighted in a meeting with Minister of Health Chen Zhu, followed by a meeting with Dr Guo Shuqing (St Anthony’s 1986), Chairman of the Securities and Regulatory Commission, to discuss possible Executive Education programmes for the CSRC at the Said Business School.
Gold scissors and champagne then came out for the official opening of the offices of the Oxford University (Beijing) Science and Technology Ltd., which supports the NDM’s ACE Diabetes Trial in China. The evening was devoted to a special showcase for the NDM' s research breakthroughs, including proof of the life-saving efficacy of today's most effective malaria treatment, artemisinin, derived from a Chinese herb, work which changed the WHO recommended treatment of severe malaria worldwide. An audience of over 100 of NDM's Chinese partners and Oxford alumni gathered on the roof terrace of the Kerry Hotel under a beautifully clear sky. Special thanks must go to representatives of the alumni branches in Beijing, including Hannah Roe (Balliol) and Gloria Du (Templeton 2005) from the Oxford and Cambridge Club Beijing and the Oxford University Society North China respectively, for their help and support.
Some reminiscing about Oxford and its weather was in order the next morning, at the launch of Chinese Minds Revealed in Oxford, a publication of presentations given by visiting Chinese scholars at Oxford edited by the Oxford Chinese Students and Scholars Association, impressively, while they were full-time students at Oxford. A last journey to the west saw Prof. Hamilton meet the new President of Tsinghua University and sign a memorandum of understanding in innovation and technology between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Oxford.
Welcome by Japan alumni At the Nissan headquarters in Yokohama
Oxford-Nissan robotic car technology At the OBE ceremony for Kenji Aiba
Japan alumni came out in force to celebrate Oxford at the Tokyo event, held in the Uehiro Foundation in Chiyoda-ku, which also houses the new offices of the Oxford Japan Office. Professor Tony Hope, Founder of the Ethox Centre, delivered the inaugural ‘Oxford Academics in Japan’ lecture. Afterwards alumni and friends, including members of the Oxford University Society, Cambridge and Oxford Society, Oxford Business Alumni as well as Alison Beale (St Hilda's, 1989), the newly appointed Director of the Oxford Japan office, overfilled a nearby restaurant.
The Uehiro Foundation supports the work of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. Prof. Hamilton, together with a Oxford delegation led by Prof. Julian Savulescu attended the Uehiro Carnegie Oxford Conference the next day in the elegant International House and pondered the conference’s theme, ‘Life, its nature, value and meaning’. Connections in Japan were also made with Kyoto University, mainly relating to technology transfer, as well as with Nissan. The latter not only supports the work of the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, but is also collaborating with the Oxford Mobile Robotics Group under Prof. Paul Newman to develop robotic car technology that will interpret its surroundings and make decisions that could eliminate the agony and cost of traffic jams.
Japan’s Imperial Household has a close connection with Oxford and Prof. Hamilton was welcomed by not only one but three members of Imperial Oxford alumni - Prince Akishino (St John’s 1988), Crown Prince Naruhito (Merton 1983) and Crown Princess Masako (Balliol 1988). Oxford is rightly proud of the accomplishments of its alumni and staff across the globe and it was a poignant moment when Prof. Hamilton was able to share the pride of Kenji Aiba, the representative of Isis Innovation Japan, as alumnus, Ambassador David Warren (Exeter 1971) conferred on him an OBE for encouraging trade between Japan and the UK.
Click here for the VC's travelogue and photos of the Alumni Events in Hong Kong, Beijing and Tokyo.
Collegiate University Events in China
|Wednesday 13 June, 8.30 pm
Oxford alumna Berenika plays Beethoven Emperor Concerto
Jockey Club Auditorium, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
HK$80 - $120 Book
|Friday 15 June 6.30-8.30 pm
Aung Sang Suu Kyi – Lady of No Fear
A documentary about her Oxford days
Asia Society Hong Kong Centre
9 Justice Drive, Admiralty, Hong Kong
HK$180 Oxford Alumni, $230 Non members
|Wednesday 20 June 12.15 – 2 pm
Myanmar: Winds of Change?
Luncheon Panel Discussion moderated by alumnus Ian Holliday (New 1982)
Asia Society Hong Kong Center,
9 Justice Drive, Admiralty
HK$490 Oxford University alumni/ $590 Non-members [READ MORE]
|Saturday 23 June, 6 pm - late…
Shanghai Oxford Ball
Kerry Hotel Pudong Shanghai, 1388 Huamu Lu near Fangdian Lu
1500 RMB Alumni, 2000 RMB Guests
Dress code: Black tie
|Tuesday 26 June, 6.30 – 9 pm
University College Reunion in Hong Kong
Library, China Club, Old Bank of China Building, Bank Street, Hong Kong
|Tuesday 26 June, 7 – 9 pm
Oxford and Business:
Great Stories, Great Future
An Evening with Peter Tufano
Dean of Said Business School
HK Bankers Club, 43/F Gloucester Tower, the Landmark, 11 Pedder Street, Central
HK$250 Oxford alumni, HK$300 Friends
|Thursday 28 June, 7 for 7.30 pm
The rules of the game, changing the game and the land of opportunities
A talk by Peter Tufano
Dean of Said Business School
Face Bar, 26 Dong Cao Yuan, GongTi Nan Lu, Chaoyang Qu, Beijing 100020
|Thursday 2 – Sunday 5 August
Christ Church Cathedral Choir’s China Tour
2 August Beijing 7.30 pm
4 August Guangzhou, 8 pm
With a Oxford Guangzhou alumni and friends reception
5 August Shenzhen, 8 pm