The ICAS Lectures


Remarks in Honor of Dr. Chong Moon Lee

Mark Borthwick

ICAS Annual Liberty Award Dinner

December 3, 2010
Kennedy Caucus Room
Senate Office Building Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

Institute for Corean-American Studies, Inc.
965 Clover Court, Blue Bell, PA 19422

Biographic sketch & Links: Mark Borthwick

Remarks in Honor of Dr. Chong Moon Lee

Mark Borthwick
Director, United States Asia Pacific Council
East-West Center
December 3, 2010
Washington DC

I want to thank the Institute for Corean American Studies for all your hard work to make a very special event like this possible. It presents a wonderful opportunity to honor and celebrate the life and work of Dr. Chong Moon Lee, someone who I've come to consider a kind of Renaissance man of the Pacific Century.

There really isn't time enough to do justice to the range of his accomplishments, generosity and leadership. I'd like to provide some of my perspective from working with him on issues affecting the Asia- Pacific region. Dr. Lee's vision extends to the whole region where he sees a future full of possibilities - but also a future that is profoundly at risk. He understands that the region's future will be deeply affected by how events unfold on the Korean peninsula and of course he knows it will depend also on the steadfast support of the United States for the government and people of South Korea. I've watched him work tirelessly on both sides of the Pacific, to establish dialogues on security and economic issues involving officials, academics and businesses, to reinforce and support transPacific relationships, especially between the United States and South Korea.

Chong Moon has been my friend and colleague for quite a few years now. We met when we both attended as private sector delegates at an APEC ministerial meeting and heads of government Summit in Manila in 1996. That was when a breakthrough agreement on trade in information technology was being negotiated and developed. One thing in particular about him stood out for me in that meeting. It was obvious that here was a man who was interested in making things happen and who could make them happen. Over the following year, from that point in time, he was the prime mover for an Asia Pacific Information Technology Summit that was held in San Francisco in 1997. It was the kind of meeting that had never been achieved by any business or government organization. It brought together business and government leaders from Asia and the very top of the leadership of Silicon Valley, including Andy Grove, Chairman and CEO of Intel, Larry Ellison, Chairman and CEO of Oracle, Lew Platt, CEO of Hewlett Packard, John Chambers CEO of Cisco Systems as well as Rupert Mudock, Chairman and CEO of News Corp., and the younger, rising stars like Jerry Yang, founder of Yahoo. Fidel Ramos, then-President of the Philippines, was a special guest. No less than twelve Asia-Pacific trade ministers participated, because what was being debated between the government and business representatives was the future of Asian markets in hi technology, the future use of the Internet in Asia, and the regulatory environment for such services and products, and these discussions then had all kinds of ripple effects in official and unofficial meetings for years to follow.

This is what I mean when I say that Chong Moon Lee is a man who makes things happen. He has been a catalyst on many occasions for meetings of policy makers and key thinkers because he is himself one of those key thinkers. He has been especially effective in prodding people to rethink future scenarios and policy choices that require our attention, particularly as they relate to innovation and change in the business world and to critical and complex relationships in the international political arena such as exist between the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

The first time I entered Chong Moon's house, I thought I must have accidentally entered a wing of some Asian art museum. But, no, that museum was in San Francisco and Chong Moon was its leading patron. That was where he was opening up a whole new era for the support and appreciation of Asian art on the west coast. Again: a man who makes things happen, but also a connoisseur and preservationist for great Asian art. He's someone who has not just an understanding of art history but also an eye for contemporary art as I learned when I accompanied him for two days through a warren of streets in Hanoi inspecting and buying art in small galleries featuring the most promising Vietnamese artists.

I've used the term "Renaissance man" here and I think we need remember that the historical basis for that expression was an unusual kind of man who was diverse, full of abilities, but also a leader, a man of action like a Medici, one with political and social vision as well as one who had a strong intellect and understanding of art, who could appreciate genius and bring talented people together and could lead civic projects with value that would endure beyond his own lifetime. There's no satisfactory explanation for the Renaissance man's appearance in history except that he developed himself to meet the challenges and opportunities of the era into which he was born, an era which often seemed in those turbulent times, as dangerous and full of risk as it was full of hope and wonder. Today we rarely find such a person in any generation of leaders. When one such as Chong Moon Lee does emerge, we can only be grateful and acknowledge what he represents, because he shows us not just what can be accomplished by an individual, he points the way to what society itself can achieve through discipline, sacrifice, entrepreneurship, and a public spirit. Through his inspiring story, his leadership and example, he, as the poet Robert Frost put it, "asks of us a certain height." In this world that can seem, as the old world of the Renaissance did, as dangerous as is it full of hope and wonder, he shows us that we can achieve - yet again, in our lives and our communities - a Renaissance.

So, again, my congratulations to Dr. Chong Moon Lee on his receipt of this award from ICAS.

Thank you.

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