BEIJING, 31 March 2003 -- At the initiative of the Rotary Club of Beijing (provisional), the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the China Youth Development Foundation, the Chinese Foundation for the Prevention of STD and AIDS, the United Nations System in China, the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), the London-based Barry & Martin’s Trust and the European Commission announced today that they had joined forces to highlight the need to raise awareness of AIDS in China through the organization of “The Ball: Beijing Rotary for AIDS” held on March 29, 2003 in Beijing. The Ball was the first major AIDS charity event of this kind in China.
The black-tie dinner, which was designed to raise funds and awareness about the AIDS issue in China, attracted strong attendance from top-level government officials, celebrities and members of the Beijing business community.
Senior Chinese government officials including Mr. Wu Jieping, former Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and wife Mrs. Wu, Mr. Zhang Weiqing, Minister of State Family Planning Commission of China, Mr. Hu Deping, Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department and Mr. Ma Xiaowei, Vice Minister of Ministry of Health and many others attended the Ball to show their support to the cause. Mme Wu Yi, Vice Premier could not attend the event but sent a letter that were read during the dinner.
In a gesture highlighting the need to pull global resources together to fight AIDS in China, American Chinese celebrity Ms. Yue Sai Kan joined famous actor Mr. Pu Cunxin to host the event, while American movie icon Elizabeth Taylor sent a video message which was shown during the Ball.
A large number of international celebrities from all walks of life, including Kofi Annan, former presidents Bill Clinton and GISCARD D’ESTAING, former premier Bob Hawke, commissioner Christopher Patten, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Sharon Stone, Elton John, Catherine Deneuve and Marina Mahatir, joined officials like Mr. Yan Mingfu and Chinese celebrities such as Gong Li, Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh, Fei Xiang, Joan Chen, Leslie Cheung and many others to sent a personal tribute letter to support the Ball’s objectives.
A total of 500 guests from government and healthcare background, celebrities and major corporations attended the Ball.
Some stars came from Hong Kong to participate in the event including Anita Mui, Maggie Q, and Nicholas Tse. They joined local celebrities such as Li Xia, Hu Bing and many others, thus reflecting the Ball’s objective to involve all influencers to discuss openly, help prevent and fight AIDS in China.
Many items were donated by individuals and corporations to raise funds for the AIDS awareness programmes in China. One of the most notable items was Sir Elton John’s donation of a pair of his famous glasses for a live auction. One of the Spice Girls dresses was also on offer as well as many other items including a Piaget watch and many other valuable works of art.
“The money generated through this event will be given to organizations that deal with the AIDS issue in China and we have worked closely with our partners, including the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the CYDF, the CFPSA, the UN and active Rotarians to identify the ones that will make the deepest impact on the fight against AIDS.” explained Mr. Serge Dumont, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Ball and President of the Rotary Club of Beijing (provisional).
Six programmes such as Care for People Affected by HIV/AIDS in Beijing, AIDS Orphans in Shanxi and Henan Provinces, AIDS Campaign Bus “Mobile Red Ribbon”, Health Education for Commercial Sex Workers, and other programs have been pre-selected as recipients of the money raised at the Ball.
According to Chinese official figures released on February 21, HIV infections in China were on the rise in 2002. A total of 9,824 cases of HIV infections were reported in 2002, a 19.5% increase compared with that of the previous year. At the end of 2002, an cumulative 40,560 HIV-infection cases have been reported, 32% rise of the previous year. Experts have put the Chinese HIV-infection number in over one million in 2002 (use Chinese government or UN figures and quote the source).
“In spite of the unbelievable magnitude of the issue, millions of Chinese have never even heard of AIDS, or believe they can get the disease from mosquito bites or by shaking hands. Moreover, AIDS and HIV remain taboo subjects in many quarters, perpetuating ignorance of the disease and rendering millions of people unnecessarily vulnerable to it. The aim of this event is to break this taboo through active participation of high profile members of the community,” said Yue Sai Kan commenting on her involvement in this event.
“The growth rates of HIV infection in China could lead to an epidemic of enormous proportion ,” added Mr. Serge Dumont, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Ball and President of the Rotary Club of Beijing (provisional). “Fortunately, it is still time to act in China. As responsible members of the business community, we see it as our duty to support existing education and awareness efforts, especially among fellow business people who too often do not see the treat that AIDS pauses to their business. Our 2003 Annual Dinner is just the first step towards that goal.”
Emphasising the involvement of the artistic community in the fight against AIDS, Eric Vu An, from the Paris Opera and star dancer of the Béjart Ballet troupe, flew in from Paris to perform a solo from the ballet ‘Arepo’ for the Ball in what was his China Premiere. Other famous performers such as the China Philharmonic Orchestra string quartet, and innovative Chinese Opera singer Zheng Ziru performed at the event. In another gesture of support, the China Philharmonic Orchestra donated 200 tickets to their Beethoven Concerto and Symphony performance with pianist Michel Bourdoncle, conducted by Ryusuke Numajiri on the following day.