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A Chinese businessman gave $1M to San Francisco for APEC. Who is he?

Kevin Xu attended a Grammy Awards party at Tom’s Watch Bar in Los Angeles on Feb. 3 ,2023. | Source: Araya Doheny/Getty Images

Visa, Salesforce and Kaiser are among the big-name companies donating to cover the cost of San Francisco hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November.

But on the list of major donors is a lesser-known company called MEBO, which donated $1 million to the city.

A biotech company based in China and Los Angeles, MEBO is known for its medical products to treat burn wounds—namely Moist Exposed Burn Ointment (MEBO). And the Chinese American immigrant businessman behind the company has a passion for global business cooperation.

“I care deeply about social responsibility and international relations,” MEBO CEO Kevin Xu told The Standard in Mandarin. “If we can all collaborate, we can make things great.”

Xu, 35, inherited the company in 2015 after the unexpected death of his father, Dr. Rongxiang Xu, who founded MEBO. At the age of 27, the younger Xu was not ready to take over an international corporation, but he received much help and encouragement from mentors to help him get through the transition.

According to state business registry records, about a dozen companies with “MEBO” in their names are under Xu and his mother Li Li, including MEBO International, MEBO Capital and MEBO Fortune, to name a few.

In the Chinese-speaking world, MEBO faces many controversies involving Dr. Rongxiang Xu, with critics calling him a liar for claiming he developed the technology for so-called “human organ regeneration.” In response, MEBO’s official website posted an interview in which Rongxiang Xu denied the accusations and stood by his patent.

The Xu family has also made major donations to multiple academic institutions, including University of Southern California, his alma mater. California State University Los Angeles has renamed its College of Health and Human Services to honor Xu’s late father. A Harvard-affiliated health research center has been renamed to Rongxiang Xu Center for Regenerative Therapeutics. Kevin Xu has started a think tank under his own name at the University of Chicago.

“If I can have the opportunities to help others, to be a servant, I will do that,” Xu said.

As a previous attendee of APEC, Xu said the event is a rare opportunity for connecting the Asia Pacific Rim region and it could be a great platform for different parts of the world to talk about trade and other issues. 

The $1 million donation also gives Xu some benefits and responsibility, as he now co-chairs the APEC Host Committee and MEBO’s logo is prominently displayed on the summit’s official website. The boost in brand awareness may also help Xu’s business abroad, as he said APEC member regions are the target markets for MEBO’s medical training programs.

Coincidentally, another co-chair is also a Chinese American with a last name Xu: Tony Xu, the founder of DoorDash. The two Xus have no blood relation.

Even though Kevin Xu lives in Los Angeles, he has strong ties with the Bay Area, too. Xu serves as the chair the board of directors at the Bay Area Council, a pro-business group in San Francisco. He’s also the board chair of Street Media LLC, which owns the Marina Times.

John Grubb, the chief operating officer of Bay Area Council, praised Xu as a model business leader and called his donation an essential support to ensure big civic activities like APEC could happen.

“San Francisco’s social fabric depends on philanthropists like Kevin stepping up,” Grubb said.

Xu also said he wants more younger generations to be involved in APEC and that he will organize more events to make San Francisco shine again.

“As co-chair, I want to fully utilize the APEC platform,” he said, “and help the city to promote APEC’s influence.”

Mayor London Breed said she’s grateful for MEBO’s early commitment in supporting San Francisco.

“As the city is ramping up our preparation work,” Breed said, “their support will help ensure thousands of visitors experience the best of San Francisco while they attend this important international meeting.”

Han Li can be reached at

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