Austria - People's Republic of China: Title "Friendship Ambassador" awarded to Helmut Sohmen by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries
Beijing, 13 October 2008 - The well-known Austrian entrepreneur Dr. Helmut Sohmen, CEO of BW Group Limited, one of the world’s largest oil and liquid gas tanker shipping companies, was awarded the title "Friendship Ambassador" by the Chinese People´s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries on 9 October in Beijing. Before him, former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch was among those who received this distinction.
Sohmen has been living in Hong Kong for decades, and served as the President of the Chamber of Commerce and as CEO of the well-known "Dragonair" airline company operating from Hong Kong. His wife Anna Pui Hing Sohmen is the daughter of a ship-owner family, and a member of the Chinese People" s Political Consultative Conference.
In his eulogy, Chen Haosu, Chairman of the Chinese People´s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, pointed out to Sohmen’s outstanding contribution to a better understanding of China in Austria and the world. Sohmen, for instance, finances scholarships for Chinese students in Austria, and for prospective Chinese legal experts - Sohmen is a lawyer - in the USA through various foundations.
On 10 October, the Austrian Ambassador in China, Martin Sajdik, gave a banquet in Sohmen´s honour, which was attended by Chairman Chen, the former head of the Bureau of the Chinese news agency Xinhua in Hong-Kong, Zhou Nan, who was the de facto highest representative of China in Hong Kong during British rule, as well as other outstanding personalities from China’s social circles.