In 2009, Prof. Pedro Nueno was awarded the “”The People’s Republic of China Friendship Award” by the Chinese Government. This is an important People’s Republic of China’s highest award for “foreign experts who have made relevant contributions to the country’s economic and social progress”. A total of 1,249 foreign experts, from 67 countries and regions have received the Chinese government’s Friendship Award, since 1991.
It has a positive and important influence on foreign experts working in China and many of them treasure it. It is a great honor for experts to be invited to the awards ceremony and it is not only in recognition of the foreign expert’s contribution to the Chinese, but also a symbol of friendship.
During his speech at the awarding ceremony, Prof. Nueno proposed to create an award in return to those people who have made an outstanding contribution to the world from China. This is how the International Friendship award concept was born.
In 2014, an international jury chosen by a Committee of professors of the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) and composed of people of the maximum level of the academic and management fields, granted in Barcelona the first International Friendship Award to top level people who had a history of contributing to China and to the world in a professional way. The award was given by Dr. Andreu Mas Colell, Minister of Economy of Catalonia and Dr. Jordi Canals, Dean of IESE. The five awardees of the first edition of the International Friendship award were Dr. Jiren Liu, Chairman and CEO, NeuSoft Corporation; Mr. Shi Lirong, CEO, ZTE; Mr. Cai Mingpo, Founder and President, Cathay Capital Private Equity; Mr. Liu Qiangdong, Founder and CEO, JD.com; and Ms. Yang Lan, Co-Founder, Sun Media Group. All five of them travelled to Barcelona to receive the award.
The second edition of the International Friendship Award was held on April 9th, 2018 in Madrid. The awards were given by Queen Letizia of Spain and the awardees were Mr. Eric X. Li, Chairman of Chengwei Capital; Mr. Lin Liangqi, President of Akso Nobel China; Ms. Sun Yafang, former Chairwoman of Huawei and Ms. Celina Chew, President of Bayer Group Greater China and Chairman of Bayer (China).
Due to the success of the two previous editions of the award, the IFA organizing committee has been suggested to open the award to people from other countries that have made an outstanding contribution to the development of its own country and opening it to the rest of the world. The first focus has been Africa.
Twelve years ago, President Hu Jintao told Prof. Nueno at a dinner with him and the former King Juan Carlos of Spain that Africa was very important for China and suggested Prof. Nueno to open a campus of CEIBS there. So, he decided to launch CEIBS Africa in Accra, Ghana, that has been so far a big success. Both CEIBS and IESE have many programs, initiatives and Alumni in Africa and both schools have made alliances with business schools and universities in Ivory Coast, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and other African countries. It is very clear both to IESE and CEIBS that China and Africa have a future full of opportunities.
The third edition of the award was held in Madrid on October 30, 2019. Queen Letizia presided the ceremony again.