City of Flowers, City of the Future
Each Fortune Global Forum offers delegate companions a complimentary program that is as thoughtfully planned, insightful, and memorable as the Forum itself. This year’s program will enable our guests to explore the history, culture, and personality of our vibrant host city through privileged access to and a series of interactive encounters with some of its most interesting people and places.
Guangzhou is China’s third-largest urban area and the capital of Guangdong Province. It is a city deeply rooted in the past but with its sights focused on the future. Inhabited since the Neolithic Age, the city has been the political, commercial, and cultural center of southern China for more than two millennia. Guangzhou, known to early European traders as Canton, lies between Hong Kong and Macau at the confluence of one of China’s mightiest rivers—the Pearl—and its major tributaries. This strategic location made Guangzhou the primary port on the maritime Silk Road. Centuries of cultural intermingling have produced a Cantonese culture famous for diversity, vitality, and an outlook that is pragmatic and yet innovative, enterprising, and humanistic. Today, Guangzhou is known for sophisticated arts, architecture, and entertainment; a refined cuisine; and the year-round show of flowering trees and shrubs that makes it the City of Flowers.
Thursday, December 6, 2018
Views and Viewpoints
Our opening lunch will be held at Catch, a casual-chic restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel, located on the 100th floor of the International Finance Center. This soaring landmark lies in the Pearl River New City, the hub of business, finance, and culture in 21st-century Guangzhou. Enjoy local seafood artfully prepared to an international standard, along with breathtaking aerial views of the Pearl River and the New City. Joining us for networking and an exchange of viewpoints over lunch will be accomplished women from a variety of disciplines. These forward-looking local female leaders exemplify the energy and innovation of our host city.
At the heart of the historic inner city is a major archaeological site spanning 12 historical periods and 2,000 years of urban development. At the entrance to what was once the ancient Nanyue Kingdom Palace complex, a troupe in the historical costumes of palace guards will welcome us with a brief, traditional ceremonial dance. Afterward, we will take a short stroll along the historic Beijing Road, a pedestrian promenade where the excavations of ancient foundations are visible through glass panels set into the pavement.
Curated Craft Showcase
Cantonese crafts—exquisite embroidery and porcelain; intricate paper cutting and carvings in wood and jade; copper ware; bamboo flutes; and furniture—found their way to fine homes throughout Europe. The region’s long tradition of craftsmanship, which dates to the Nanyue Kingdom, continues today. In the 21st century, it has grown to embrace modern creations such as animation design and characters. For the enjoyment of our guests, an area of the Beijing Road will be turned into a private showcase featuring carefully chosen local artisans and craftsman, who will demonstrate their skills and invite our participation in various crafts and conversation.
The Art of Fashion in the Flower City
China is producing some of the world’s most creative young fashion talent. Among that group is Guangzhou native Zhaoping Deng, who was honored as both China’s top designer and one of Guangzhou’s Ten Great Women in 2016. Her elegant designs fuse traditional elements—fine silks and embroidery—with high-tech materials and techniques. Many of her designs have been selected for inclusion in museum collections. A section of bustling Beijing Road will be closed for a private showing of cheongsams designed by Deng, who has collaborated with acclaimed artists to create unique fabric prints that reflect the floral splendor of Guangzhou. Special permission has been given—a first—to use the glass excavation-viewing panels in the pedestrian promenade as a runway for this exclusive event. Our guests will have the opportunity to meet and speak with Deng about her career, her perspective on fashion, and her designs.
Welcoming Reception, Opening Dinner, and Entertainment
Shangri-La Hotel and Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
Open to all Delegates and Companions
Our opening reception will be held at the Shangri-La Hotel. There will be a special address from the Chinese state leadership.
We will then transfer to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall for dinner and entertainment. The palatial assembly hall—an octagonal structure built without supporting pillars and set on beautiful grounds—honors the memory of the forerunner of China’s democratic revolution. It has been the site of many historic events. The evening’s theme, East Meets West, will run throughout the festivities, including musical entertainment that will meld the instruments and styles of both cultures. Our guests will also hear a performance by the Guangzhou Symphony Youth Orchestra (GSYO), an affiliate of the internationally renowned Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra formed in 2011. GSYO is China’s first youth orchestra founded and administered by a professional orchestra.
Friday, December 7, 2018
Early Morning Activity: Chen-Style Tai Chi Along the Pearl River
Visit a park or public area anywhere in a Chinese city during the morning and you will find groups of residents practicing tai chi. We invite you to start your day with a master class in the Chen-style. The oldest—and the progenitor—of the major tai chi styles, Chen-style originated with the Chen family in the 17th century. It is characterized by silk reeling: alternating fast and slow movements and power bursts. The setting for our class is a lush riverside garden, also a tranquil place for our breakfast afterward.
Morning Activity, Option 1: The Art of Cantonese Opera
Guangzhou is the birthplace of Cantonese opera, which combines singing and acting with acrobatics and martial arts. Opened last year in one of the city’s oldest districts, the new Cantonese Opera Art Museum employs the latest technology to bring the history and all aspects of this art form to life. The museum, built in the historic regional style with traditional staging and garden settings for performances, displays more than 5,000 artifacts. Our opera experience will include a live performance, a curator-led tour of the exhibits, and lessons in the techniques of applying the makeup characteristic of Cantonese opera.
Morning Activity, Option 2: A Walking Tour of Shamian Island
Long an important base for foreign trade, this 74-acre island later became the designated district for the English and French trade concessions. The one-time prosperous foreign enclave features broad, tree-lined streets; beautifully restored 19th- and early 20th-century mansions, hotels, churches, schools, and commercial buildings in a variety of architectural styles; and lavish gardens. Highlights include Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel; extraordinary trees, some of them hundreds of years old; bronze sculptures depicting scenes from the island’s history; and unique Pearl River vistas. A perfect respite from the pace of modern Guangzhou, the island will be exclusively ours for the duration of our walking tour with a leading historian and architectural expert. A troupe of talented street buskers will enhance the experience.
Dining in Shamian’s Historic Foreign Affairs Club
This private club, dating to the late 19th century, was once a gathering place for Shamian’s foreign business community and officers from merchant ships. Tiffany-style lighting, stained glass, and exquisite tile and woodwork ornament a stately bar/library and dining room overlooking a lush garden. Our group will reconvene in this handsome setting, where a noted chef will demonstrate the preparation of dim sum, a culinary art native to southern China. Once served in the teahouses established along the Silk Road as rest and refreshment stops for travelers and traders, dim sum has become ubiquitous, consumed from breakfast tea to takeout. Lunch will follow our sampling of the chef’s creations.
Afternoon Activity, Option 1: Folk Art at the Chen Clan Academy
Spend an afternoon gaining insight into traditional southern Chinese architecture and folk art. Built by the Chen clans in late 19th century, the Chen Clan Academy functioned as an academy, ancestral temple, and assembly hall for those who came to the provincial capital on business. The extensive, symmetrical walled complex—featuring 19 buildings, nine halls, and six courtyards connected by corridors—is an example of traditional regional architecture. Richly embellished with wood, stone, and brick carving, painted beams, and plaster and iron work, it is notable for intricate pottery ridge-crests that feature themes and characters from traditional dramas. The academy has been used as a set for numerous movies. Today, appropriately, the complex serves as the Guangdong Museum of Folk Art and Crafts. The museum is ours for the afternoon as we explore its impressive collection with a noted expert and participate in folk art activities, such as knot-making and calligraphy.
Afternoon Activity, Option 2: An Afternoon in Another World
Shawan Ancient Town—a district of narrow cobbled streets lined with ancient structures, murals, and shell-encrusted walls—provides a window onto eight centuries of southern China’s history and cultural heritage. We will be welcomed with a Piao-se street parade, performed by costumed children carried along in carts, and also enjoy an Aoyu Fish Dance performance. These performances exemplify the many intangible cultural traditions preserved in Shawan. Afterward, we will be invited into the homes of local residents to gain insight into their day-to-day lives in this ancient enclave set within a 21st-century city. Refreshments will be served at a pottery studio known for its exquisite teapots.
Dinner Beneath Canton Tower: The Nightscape of Guangzhou
Open to all Delegates and Spouses
With its slender-waisted profile, latticework design, and dancing LED lights, the Canton TV tower dominates the Guangzhou skyline. China’s tallest tower, it is also the tallest television transmission tower in the world. Our second-night dinner and entertainment—hosted by the government of Guangzhou—will take place at the landmark’s base, affording spectacular views of Pearl River New Town and its iconic architecture. Our guests will be treated to choral and dance performances on a grand scale, enhanced by the latest technology. Dinner will be followed by a leisurely cruise on the Pearl River. At night, the Pearl is a ribbon of light showcasing Guangzhou’s unique blend of the natural and manmade, the historic, contemporary, and futuristic. Enjoy a nightcap as the skyline slips by and the city’s illuminated bridges pass overhead—images you will long remember.
Saturday, December 8, 2018
Early Morning Activity 1: Baiyun’s Beautiful Plum Blossom Valley
Enjoy a leisurely walk in Plum Blossom Valley, located in the Baiyun Mountains a short distance north of the city. The mountain range has been celebrated for its scenic beauty for centuries. With their heights often wreathed in clouds (Baiyun means white clouds), the mountains benefit from abundant moisture and almost complete coverage in trees and vegetation. Today, Baiyun encompasses a number of popular sightseeing and recreation areas. During the winter season, the 700 fragrant plum trees that give Plum Blossom Valley its name bloom in a profusion of colors. This floral wonderland will be exclusively ours for an invigorating, guided morning walk. Afterward, we’ll indulge the appetite we’ve built with a private breakfast on the roof terrace of the lovely Plum Blossom Valley Restaurant.
Early Morning Activity, Option 2: Traditional Chinese Health And Wellness
Spend the morning learning about traditional Chinese health care practices in the herbal garden of a modern pharmaceutical corporation. The garden is dedicated to Shennong, the legendary father of Chinese medicine and agriculture, who is said to have tasted hundreds of herbal substances to determine their beneficial or toxic nature. The text based on his findings has helped Chinese herbalists promote health, wellness, and balance for nearly 2,000 years. Our walk through the garden will be guided by an expert in medicinal plants and will include a special tai chi performance. Afterward, we will divide into two groups. The first will enjoy herbal tea and healthy snacks while learning about the use of dried Mandarin orange peel in traditional medicine and local cuisine. The second will receive a wellness assessment by experts in traditional Chinese health care.
Morning Activity: Artful Architecture
Flower City Square, in Pearl River New Town, has become the cultural heart of modern Guangzhou. This public space is anchored by a group of inspiring sculptural structures that pay homage to the city, its culture, and its natural setting while earning it recognition as one of the world’s great architectural cities. Our golf-cart tour, led by a noted authority on modern architecture, will include the red-and-black Guangdong Museum, inspired by Chinese lacquer boxes and concentric ivory ball carvings, and the Guangzhou Library, designed to resemble a collection of books. We will finish at the Guangzhou Opera House, designed by the late award-winning British architect Zaha Hadid. Its folded, flowing surface—reminiscent of boulders on the river bank and the effects of erosion—creates an organic structure in harmony with its location. Our guests will be welcomed by the opera company’s distinguished director. Following refreshments, we will experience the acclaimed acoustics of the main auditorium in a private performance by a renowned opera singer and a local children’s choir.