National Committee on United States–China Relations

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National Committee on United States–China Relations
TypeNonprofit organization
PurposeTo promote United States-China relations
Headquarters6 E. 43 Street, 24th Floor
By invitation
Stephen Orlins
Vice President
Jan Berris

The National Committee on United States China Relations (NCUSCR) is a nonprofit organization and advisory body founded in 1966 to encourage understanding and cooperation between the United States and China. Since 1966, the committee has conducted exchanges, educational and policy activities in areas of politics and security, education, governance and civil society, economic cooperation, media and transnational issues, addressing these topics with respect to Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. National Committee exchanges and conferences bring together leaders in a range of fields from both sides of the Pacific, and promotes dialogue, engagement, and decision-making across a range of disciplines.

The committee's membership consists of American citizens, corporations and professional firms representing many viewpoints, but share the belief that productive U.S.-China relations require ongoing public education, face-to-face contact and exchange of ideas.

The committee's Chinese name is (simplified Chinese: 美中关系全国委员会; traditional Chinese: 美中關係全國委員會; pinyin: Měi zhōng guānxì quánguó wěiyuánhuì).


The National Committee promotes mutual understanding and constructive relations through programs in four primary categories:

Informing policy makers and thought leaders through exchanges that enable elected officials, government leaders, and senior military personnel to meet, develop working relationships, and discuss critical issues. Activities include:

Fostering Dialogue on cutting edge issues to promote frank exchanges among experts and policy leaders. Track II dialogue topics include:

  • Digital economy
  • Economic relations
  • Healthcare
  • Maritime issues and international law
  • The rule of law and human rights
  • Strategic security

Next generation programs to develop the capacity of future leaders from the United States and China. Initiatives include:

  • Public Intellectuals Program for American specialists on China
  • Professional Fellows Program, which brings together U.S., PRC, Hong Kong and Taiwan NGO leaders
  • Student Leaders Exchange to introduce top American secondary students to China
  • Young Leaders Forum for emerging leaders from multiple fields
  • Professional Fellows Program: Capacity building and two-way exchange for emerging NGO leaders in China, Mongolia and the United States in the fields of environment, philanthropy, legal aid and community building for marginalized populations

Public Education: Facilitating the exchange of ideas through public outreach and educational exchanges, including:

  • Public events, book talks, lectures, and discussions with leading experts
  • CHINA Town Hall: A simultaneous 100-city nationwide event
  • Barnett-Oksenberg Lecture Series, an annual event in Shanghai
  • Video, podcast, and transcript series to educate a global online audience


Origins of the National Committee[edit]

The National Committee on United States–China Relations was founded in 1966 by a coalition of academic "China watchers," civic, religious, and business leaders who were concerned with China's isolation and American apparent interest in maintaining that situation. A key figure in recruiting and organizing them was Cecil Thomas, a Secretary of the American Friends Service Committee. Thomas became its first executive director. [1] The founders included figures in the China field such as Robert A. Scalapino, A. Doak Barnett, Alexander Eckstein, Lucian Pye. Their aim was to build a network from a broad political spectrum, committed to fostering open discussion and to improving U.S. policy toward China.

The committee was energized by helping to organize two groundbreaking conferences: the “Institute on China Today” held at University of California-Berkeley in 1964, and the “National Conference on the United States and China” in Washington, D.C. in 1965. Together, they gave a platform to debate the reshaping of the approach towards China. There was heated disagreement among even the scholars, but figures such as Henry Luce and American businessmen argued against defenders of the policy. There was widespread interest from newspapers, television, and the general public. [2]

Several presidents had wanted to move closer to normalization of relations with China but faced resistance in Congress.[3] The committee's mission was to educate the public, but it soon found itself in the position to offer information and advice to President Lyndon B. Johnson and other political leaders. In 1972, it co-hosted the Chinese table tennis team's tour of the United States, a widely publicized event that captured world attention. The historic two-way exchange by American and Chinese table tennis teams became known as Ping Pong Diplomacy.[4]

1970s to the 1990s[edit]

During the years leading up to the 1979 normalization of relations, the National Committee encouraged thoughtful discussion about China policy among Americans and encouraged direct dialogue between American and Chinese people. The National Committee became the principal organization conducting public policy and other exchanges between China and the United States during the years leading up to the Reform and Opening and the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979.

The Committee originally had intended to be only a "catalyst" in opening relations with China, a short-term temporary goal. But a change in this attitude came when it was called upon to manage the visit of the Chinese table-tennis team, part of American ping-pong diplomacy. Because there were no official diplomatic relations between the two countries, the State Department had to rely on private resources. The Committee stepped in, raised money, and made arrangements. This experience changed the committee's relations with American and Chinese officials, as well as its own goals.[5] In the 1980s, the Committee expanded its work to promote sustained interactions between influential Chinese and Americans in governance, media, urban planning, international relations, and economic management.[6]

During the 1990s, the Committee expanded into rule of law, legislative affairs and the expansion of civil society in China. Programs included mayoral and municipal leader exchanges, judicial training and exchanges of senior jurists (including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy), and exchanges and programs on banking and economic policy, journalism, NGO and foundation development, human rights, and public health.

Since 2000[edit]

In the 2000s, the National Committee expanded its range with new public education programs, study tours to introduce Chinese consular officers to American society, and in-depth briefings and trips to China for senior U.S. military officers. The National Committee also developed a 2005 program on community planning for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment; a groundbreaking  visit to the United States by the chairman of the China Foundation for Human Rights Development; a program to help the reform of labor law in China; and a 2009 Land Use and Public Participation Program that addressed rights and ownership issues, among other initiatives.


The National Committee includes Americans from around the country, as well as corporations and professional firms. Members of the Committee and its board of directors include a number of distinguished citizens: former secretaries of state Madeleine K. Albright, Henry A. Kissinger, and Condoleezza Rice and other former Cabinet secretaries; all of the former American ambassadors to China; leading scholars of the past several decades such as Jerome A. Cohen, Harry Harding, David Lampton, Nicholas Lardy, Kenneth Lieberthal, Susan Shirk, and Ezra Vogel; and Maurice R. Greenberg and many other corporate executives interested in China. The National Committee's current President is Stephen A. Orlins.

The National Committee has long benefited from the experience and expertise of its staff leadership. President Stephen A. Orlins speaks Mandarin fluently and was a member of the State Department team that created the legal framework for the establishment of formal relations in 1979. He has also served as president of Lehman Brothers Asia and as managing director of Carlyle Asia.  Vice president Jan Berris has been with the National Committee since 1971 and has led hundreds of delegations between the United States and China, including the Chinese table tennis team's 1972 tour. The current chairperson of the committee is The Honorable Carla Hills, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Trade Representative.   

Board of directors[edit]

Vice Chairs[edit]




Former Chairs[edit]


  1. ^ MangMang (1976), p. 5-7.
  2. ^ MangMang (1976), p. 8-9.
  3. ^ Kissinger, Henry (2011). On China. London: Penguin Press. pp. 198–199, 203. ISBN 978-0143121312.
  4. ^ Kissinger, Henry (2011). On China. London: Penguin Press. p. 232. ISBN 978-0143121312.
  5. ^ Crean, Jeffrey (2021). "A New Sphere of Influence: Table Tennis Diplomacy and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations". Journal of American-East Asian Relations. 28 (2): 109–132. doi:10.1163/18765610-28020003. S2CID 237860408.
  6. ^ Wheeler (2012).
  7. ^ Board of Directors

Illustrative publications[edit]

  • Michel Oksenberg, Academy of Political Science (U.S.) and National Committee on United States–China Relations. China's Developmental Experience. (New York: Academy of Political Science, Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science 31.1, 1973).
  • Perkins, Dwight (2020). Rural Small-Scale Industry in the People's Republic of China. Berkeley, CA. ISBN 978-0-520-31471-9. OCLC 1229160797.
  • Scalapino, R. A. (1967). An annotated guide to modern China. New York: National Committee on United States–China Relations.

References and further reading[edit]

  • Barnett, A. D., & Reischauer, E. O. (1970). The United States and China: The next decade. New York: Praeger.
  • "National Committee on United States-China Relations." Berkshire Encyclopedia of China, Volume 3, Great Barrington, MA. Berkshire Publishing Group, 2009. (p. 1548-1555)
  • Berris, Jan Carol (1986). "The Evolution of Sino-American Relations: A view from the National Committee" (PDF). In Kallgren D. F. Simon, J. K. (ed.). Educational Exchanges: Essays on the Sino-American Experience. Berkeley: University of California Institute of East Asian Studies. pp. 80–92.
  • Bullock, Mary Brown (2005), "Mission Accomplished: The Influence of the CSCCRP", in Li, Cheng (ed.), Bridging Minds Across the Pacific: US-China Educational Exchanges, 1978-2003, pp. 49–68

  • Cohen, Warren. (1986). While China faced east: Chinese-American cultural relations. In J. K. Kallgren & D. F. Simon (Eds.), Educational exchanges: Essays on the Sino-American experience (p. 49). Berkeley: University of California, Institute of East Asian Studies.
  • Harding, H. (1992). A fragile relationship: The United States and China since 1972. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.
  • Kallgren, J. K. (1986). Public interest and private interest in Sino–American exchanges: De Toqueville's "Associations" in action. In J. K. Kallgren & D. F. Simon (Eds.), Educational exchanges: Essays on the Sino-American experience (p. 65). Berkeley: University of California, Institute of East Asian Studies.
  • Lampton, David M.; Madancy, Joyce A.; Williams, Kristen M. (1986). A Relationship Restored: Trends in U.S.-China Educational Exchanges, 1978-1984. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press. ISBN 030903678X.
  • Madsen, R. (1995). China and the American dream: A moral inquiry. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Magliocco, M. T. (2008). Unsung Alchemists: The National Committee on United States–China Relations and the Path to Sino–American Rapprochement, 1949–1972. Yale College Senior Essay.
  • Mang, Robert; Mang, Pamela (1976), A History of the Origins of the National Committee on United States–China Relations (PDF), Unpublished report. Prepared at the request of the Christopher Reynolds Foundation
  • National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. U.S.-China Teachers Exchange Program. (n.d). Retrieved February 23, 2009 from
  • Wheeler, Norton (2012), The Role of American NGOs in China's Modernization: Invited Influence, Asia's Transformations, New York: Routledge, ISBN 9780415506571 Chapter Two, "The National Committee on United States-China Relations."

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°44′34″N 73°59′32″W / 40.74266°N 73.99215°W / 40.74266; -73.99215