New Year’s Eve is not the biggest holiday in China. But Huachu Tang, a 55-year-old Chinese businessman, had big plans this year — he was going to party with the U.S. president.
After a transcontinental flight from Xi’an, China to Florida on Saturday at 1 a.m., Tang, his family, and his assistant had planned to join President Donald Trump’s lavish Mar-a-Lago New Year’s Eve on Monday. Barely speaking any English, Tang had still looked forward to connecting with Trump during the party.
Just as Tang arrived in Florida after a long-haul flight, news emerged that the most prominent guest would miss his own party. Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget and the incoming chief of staff, said the president will stay in Washington to work on ending the ongoing government shutdown.
As of Sunday night, Tang had not officially been notified of Trump’s cancellation. However, he said he understands the president has a busy schedule. “It’s already a great experience to be part of it. As long as if we can actually meet and talk, I think it depends on God’s will,” said Tang, who owns an electric car company.
Even without the president, he can still use the opportunity to make his car brand known to other prominent guests and entrepreneurs from all over the world, Tang says.
After all, Tang’s American dream doesn’t end with partying with the president. Aiming to take his car company public on the New York Stock Exchange, he believes socializing with elites and other entrepreneurs could pave the way for a future public listing.
‘I'm very honored to participate in the party’
Tang hopes to take tons of pictures and share them with his Chinese friends, who found the idea of partying with U.S. president to be “unbelievable.” He will wear a custom silver Mao suit with dragons on the sleeves, a symbol of his company. He quit drinking years ago, but he will dance at the party “if needed,” he said.
Not everyone has the opportunity to count down to the new year at Mar-a-Lago. The New Year’s Eve party-goers are either Mar-a-Lago members or guests of the members. This year, guests paid $1,000 to join the party at the private Palm Beach club, up from $750 last year and $575 the year before. Tang has paid even more since he received admission as part of a package offered by a public-relations agency. The agency isn’t willing to reveal the exact price tag of the package, citing confidentiality of the contract.
Tang believes it’s a worthwhile expense, as he sees the party as a novel marketing strategy for his electric car company, Longpai. He’s also inspired by China’s president, Xi Jinping.
“President Xi has encouraged entrepreneurs in private-owned companies to ‘go out,’ to share our achievements and innovations with the world,” Tang told Yahoo Finance. “I'm very honored to participate in the party.”
Tang admires Trump despite the president’s hard line on China on trade issues. “President Trump was also a great entrepreneur before he became president,” Tang said.
Added Tang, in an interview before Trump bailed out of the event, “Since he took the office, he is always so humorous and has so many unique ideas and thoughts. I can't wait to participate in this event and appreciate the glory of the president.”
Krystal Hu covers technology and trade for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.