John Kamm is an American businessman and human rights campaigner active in China since 1972. He is the founder and chairman of The Dui Hua Foundation. Kamm was awarded the Department of Commerce’s Best Global Practices Award by President Bill Clinton in 1997 and the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights by President George W. Bush in 2001. In September 2004, Kamm received a MacArthur Fellowship for “designing and implementing an original approach to freeing prisoners of conscience in China.” Kamm is the first businessman to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2022, he was awarded the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal, citing his “tireless, personal commitment to opening mutually respectful dialogues with Chinese officials about at-risk prisoners, an innovative approach that has spared and improved the lives of so many.”
Since his first intervention on behalf of a Chinese prisoner in May 1990, Kamm has made more than 100 trips to China to engage the government in a dialogue on human rights, focusing on the treatment of prisoners and conditions in prisons. He has made 10 visits to Chinese prisons and has submitted requests for information on more than 1,000 prisoners. In the words of The New York Times, “No other person or organization in the world, including the State Department, has helped more Chinese prisoners.”
Kamm received a BA from Princeton University (1972) and an MA from Harvard University (1975). He was the Hong Kong correspondent and representative of the National Council for US-China Trade (1975-1979) and President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (1990). He also managed Occidental Chemical Corporation’s business in China and the Far East (1986-1991).