Beijing Ball Shines Spotlight on HIV/AIDS in China
Chinese officials signing The Ball backdrop.
June 2003—Chinese government officials, international celebrities, and top members of Beijing’s business community came together March 29 for The Ball in Beijing, a fund-raising gala that aimed to increase awareness about the spread of HIV/AIDS in China. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Beijing and co-organized by amfAR along with Chinese and international health organizations, the evening was the country’s first major AIDS charity event.
“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 shaking hands,” said Ms. Yue Sai Kan, an American-Chinese celebrity who co-hosted the event. “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.”
Five hundred guests from government, health care, entertainment, and business attended the black tie dinner. amfAR Founding International Chairman Dame Elizabeth Taylor sent a personal televised greeting to the event and tribute letters were received from China Vice Premier Mme. Wu Yi, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.
The evening included an auction of items donated by individuals and corporations. Among the notable offerings was a pair of Sir Elton John’s famous glasses and a Spice Girls dress. The event raised approximately $200,000 which will be disbursed among organizations that combat AIDS in China, including Care for HIV/AIDS Victims in Beijing, AIDS Orphans in Shanxi and Henan Provinces, AIDS Campaign Bus “Mobile Red Ribbon,” and Health Education for Commercial Sex Workers.
Serge Dumont, President of Rotary Club of Beijing (provisional) winning a pair of Elton John sunglasses in the live auction, pictured with Chinese model and actor Hu Bing and MTV China video jockey Li Ha.
Other event co-organizers included the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the China Youth Development Foundation, the Chinese Foundation for the Prevention of STDs and AIDS, the United Nations System in China, and the London-based Barry & Martin’s Trust.