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Ban Ki-Moon talks to Chinese philanthropists about war-torn childhood

The United Nations’ Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon talked on Friday to a group of Chinese philanthropists about his war-tormented childhood and how he made up his mind to serve the public after being saved by the UN.

Born in the farming village of Eumseong on the Korean Peninsula in 1944, Ban fled to the mountains during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. He recalled that “nothing” was left in his hometown but “rubble”.

It was the UN, formed in 1945, that provided him with food, water, shelter, in addition to security. When looking at the blue flag of the UN, Ban said he felt as if he was seeing his “protector” and “savior”. That’s when he made up his mind to devote himself to public service.

Squeezing time from his packed visit to China this week, Ban shared his story at a Global Chinese Philanthropy Symposium on Friday in Beijing’s Diaoyutai State Guest House.

Gathering leading Chinese philanthropists from the United States and China, the forum was held by the Committee of 100 (C-100), a non-profit organization of prominent Chinese American leaders in politics, business, academia, and the arts.

The gathering honored Ban for spearheading the development of global philanthropy as part of the UN’s post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, while encouraging greater participation of Chinese philanthropists towards global progress and prosperity.

“I am heartened by the key role philanthropy as been playing as a driver of social and economic transformation and I welcome the strengthened engagement of new and emerging philanthropists,” said Ban, who has empathized the importance of giving for a more equitable world and for sustainable development.

Qiu Yuanping, director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, made introductory remarks. Qiu has been a vocal supporter of the contributions that Chinese people have made around the world to global prosperity.

Clarence Kwan, former C-100 chairman, moderated a roundtable discussion on how Chinese philanthropists from around the world can align their efforts toward strategic goals, so as to have the greatest impact and be a global force for good.

“Philanthropy in China is still at an early stage, but we are very optimistic about the future,” Kwan said. “The growing willingness and commitment of Chinese individuals and companies to charitable giving is impressive.”

“Establishing ties between China and the global philanthropy community is critical to establishing the relationships and the network that will enable cooperation and progres,” said Frank Wu, chairman of C-100, who plans to organize more global events like this one to inspire Chinese philanthropists.

“C-100 is committed to acting as the bridge between the US and Chinese philanthropists around the world,” he said.

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