Didi's Liu, musician Wu Tong named Asia Society Game Changers

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York | | Updated: 2017-08-09 06:23

The president of China's main ride-hailing app and a musician who excels in rock, classical and traditional Chinese music have been named as recipients of the Asia Society's Game Changer Awards.

Jean Liu and Wu Tong will be among nine honorees receiving the awards at the United Nations in New York in November. Launched by the Asia Society in 2014, the Game Changer Awards are designed to identify those who are making a positive contribution to Asia's future. Nominations are solicited from the more than 1,000 members of the Asia Society's global network.

As president of the startup Didi Chuxing, Liu has helped build a transportation platform that has attracted a wide following across China. Liu is credited for masterminding Didi’s outdueling of Uber in a hard-fought and expensive battle for the Chinese market.

"This award means a lot for all the game changers around us: my colleagues, fellow entrepreneurs and ordinary drivers and riders in the middle of this great revolution in transportation. We are all believers in the power of AI (artificial intelligence) to build a more sustainable and inclusive future – one ride at a time, one algorithm at a time," Liu said in a statement.

Wu, one of the founding members of the Silk Road Ensemble, is a 44-year-old Beijing native who is a rock-'n'-roll star and a classical musician. He's a practitioner of Chinese music, but is also well-versed in Western traditions. The Grammy-winner is a talented singer and is also a master of the sheng — a traditional Chinese wood instrument his family has manufactured and played for generations.

The winner of the Asia Society Game Changer Lifetime Achievement Award is His Highness the Aga Khan, founder of the Aga Khan Development Network. Other winners include rapper and activist Sonita Alizadeh of Afghanistan; eagle huntress Aisholpan Nurgaiv of Mongolia; environmental activist Leng Ouch of Cambodia; actor Dev Patel from India / United Kingdom, Tadashi Yanai of Japan, and the nonprofit organization Sesame Workshop.

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