BY CASEY FISHER
Except for the occasional Yao Ming, or the Olympics, rarely do the worlds of American and Chinese sports intersect, particularly in the “white collared” sports where Chinese teams are either non-existent or playing catch-up from lacking the sustained focus that many developed nations have historically enjoyed. Of these prestigious sports institutions, the America’s Cup sits atop a list that has not seen an Asian entry in its storied 150+ years. One soft- spoken man recently changed all of that.
“The universal ideals of excellence, courage, and the spirit of a global village, are why I decided to create the Chinese team for America’s Cup,” said Wang Chao Yong, the China Team chairman.
“I wanted the world to know that we shared these values and, moreover, that we are also contributing to them on a global scale.“
Those are the reasons why the prodigious Chinese investor and banker, chairman of China Equities Group, considered one of the top venture capital and private equity investment firms in China with a track record of backing market-making companies like Baidu, Sohu and Huayi Brothers, dove into one of the world’s most prestigious, expensive and competitive sports.
In doing so, Wang has become a catalyst for the ascendancy of China to a position alongside the United States as a competi- tive comrade and partner on the world stage. It is also hard not to take note of the symbolic significance of China’s entry into “America’s Cup” for the first time. Indeed, the two sides have entered into the “unchartered” waters of a new dynamic partnership.
At a time when his colleagues in the highly competitive world of capital markets are looking at the next hot deal, Wang chose to both part with capital – it takes approximately $15 million to support a team annually – and time, to do something he believed worth-while. “I am not the wealthiest guy, nor am I am the most successful entrepreneur out there (in reference to the many billionaire entrepreneurs he’s backed), but I believe there is more to life than making money. Spending money in the right way is just as important.”
Being a “first” is not new to Wang, who arrived in the US with $30 in his pocket as an exchange student. With an aspiration to join the elites of Wall Street, he quickly catapulted himself into international finance, eventually becoming one of the founding members of the Morgan Stanley China team and head of Beijing operations in the early 90s before setting sail for the establishment of his own investment firm.
Thanks to Wang’s efforts, a new, bold face has been added to America’s Cup – and the world is that much richer for it.