National Committee on United States–China Relations

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National Committee on United States–China Relations
National Committee on United States–China Relations logo 2016.jpg
Formation 1966
Type Nonprofit organization
Headquarters 6 E. 43 Street, 24th Floor
By invitation

The National Committee on United States China Relations (NCUSCR) (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) is a nonprofit organization that encourages understanding and cooperation between the United States and Greater China in the belief that sound and productive Sino-American relations serve vital American and world interests.


For more than fifty years, the National Committee has been at the forefront in building a foundation of mutual trust and collaboration between the United States and China by conducting exchange, educational and policy activities in areas of politics and security, education, governance and civil society, economic cooperation, media and transnational issues, addressing these issues with respect to mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

National Committee exchanges and conferences bring together leaders in their fields from both sides of the Pacific, and promote intellectual dialogue, productive engagement, and informed decision-making across a range of disciplines.

The committee’s membership consists of Americans from all parts of the country, in addition to corporations and professional firms. They represent many viewpoints, but share the belief that productive U.S.-China relations require ongoing public education, face-to-face contact and forthright exchange of ideas.


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

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

  • Events for visiting Chinese leaders (including Presidents Xi Jinping and Hu Jintao, and Premier Wen Jiabao) to interact with the American public, media and business leaders
  • Congressional member and staff delegations to China to expose legislators and their aides to China and connect them with Chinese counterparts
  • Senior military officers briefings and annual trip to China to learn about non-military aspects of the country

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

  • U.S.-China Economic Dialogue: A semi-annual meeting of experts from both countries for discussion and development of policy recommendations
  • Strategic Security Dialogue: Military, political and academic specialists discuss critical security issues in Asia
  • Energy Dialogue: Former government officials, industry experts and academics from the United States and China seek new areas for energy and climate change cooperation
  • Dialogue on Human Rights and Rule of Law: An annual meeting convened by the National Committee and the China Foundation for Human Rights to promote high-level exchange and discussion of law and human rights issues in the United States and China
  • Dialogue on Maritime Issues & International Law: This ongoing dialogue—the first of its kind—was established in 2012 to convene American and Chinese legal experts to explore recent maritime disputes and suggest possible solutions

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

  • Public Intellectuals Program: Trains emerging American experts on China to engage with the policy community, the media and the public
  • Student Leaders Exchange: Intensive study tours for nationally recognized student leaders
  • Young Leaders Forum: Convenes next-generation leaders in multiple fields from the two countries to learn from one another and foster personal and professional relationships
  • Professional Fellows Program: Capacity building and two-way exchange for emerging leaders in China, Mongolia and the United States in the fields of environment, philanthropy, legal aid and community building for marginalized populations

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

  • CHINA Town Hall: Local Connections, National Reflections: A simultaneous 75-city nationwide program to educate the public and policy makers about Sino-American relations
  • Leaders Speak Series: Former cabinet secretaries discuss key issues in the U.S.-China relationship
  • Public Lecture Series: Leading experts and authors share insights on China and its relations with the United States and the world; all program videos are posted online for public viewing

Key Programs[edit]

Some of the National Committee’s many current programs include:

CHINA Town Hall: Local Connections, National Reflections is 75-city nationwide program to help Americans learn about and discuss the U.S.-China relationship with leading experts. National webcast speakers have included Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., Jimmy Carter, Madeleine Albright, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Henry Kissinger and Gary Locke.

U.S. Congress Briefings and Delegations to China: In the belief that mutual understanding between Chinese and American policy makers is essential for a productive relationship, the National Committee sends regular delegations of Congressional members and senior staff to China. These trips provide opportunities to interact with policy leaders and gain a more informed perspective of China’s society and people. The National Committee also organizes briefings on China for incoming members of Congress with experts who have included Madeleine Albright and Dr. Henry Kissinger.

The Public Intellectuals Program is a two-year fellowship that encourages emerging American scholars and experts on China and U.S.-China relations to extend their work beyond academia, engage with the public and policy community, and strengthen links with specialists, opinion leaders and the community. Fellows are encouraged to actively deploy their knowledge to inform policy formation and to educate the public about Sino-American relations.

Track II Dialogues provide opportunities for influential policy professionals and leading experts to openly discuss critical issues in the U.S.-China relationship and reach consensus on potential solutions, which are then shared with their respective governments. The National Committee conducts regular dialogues, in the United States and China, on economic relations (now in its ninth year), maritime and security issues, energy cooperation, and rule of law and human rights.

New Neighbors: Chinese Investment in the United States by Congressional District is a first-of-its-kind study of Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. Providing cumulative investments values, numbers of operations, and jobs provision by region, state, and each of the 435 U.S. congressional districts, the study discusses investment trends and identifies areas of the U.S. economy with potential to attract additional Chinese investment.

Young Leaders Forum is an annual gathering for a select group of exceptional American and Chinese young professionals drawn from all segments of the two societies. Under-40-year-old business, finance, non-profit, and technology leaders from both countries come together and exchange points of view with counterparts from the arts, academia, and national and local government, to name just a few. Through off-the-record dialogue and group activities, participants explore substantive issues, develop enduring friendships, and increased their understanding of one another.

Origins of the National Committee[edit]

The National Committee on United States–China Relations was founded in June 1966 by a coalition of academic, civic, religious, and business leaders. The founders included some of the giants of the China field such as Robert A. Scalapino, A. Doak Barnett, Alexander Eckstein, Lucian Pye and Cecil Thomas, who became its first Executive Director. Their aim was to build a network of accomplished, credible individuals from a broad political spectrum, committed to open discussion and debate and to improving U.S. policy toward China. The Committee’s mission was explicitly to educate the U.S. public, but it quickly had opportunities to offer information and advice to President Lyndon B. Johnson and other political leaders, and by 1972 was in a position to co-host (along with the U.S. Table Tennis Association) the Chinese Ping Pong team’s famous tour of the United States, an event that captured world attention and was covered by major newspapers and television networks.

The National Committee was founded in the wake of two groundbreaking conferences on U.S.-China policy held in 1964 and 1965. A one-day “Institute on China Today” held at University of California–Berkeley in 1964, and a “National Conference on the United States and China” in Washington, D.C. in 1965 helped lift an unofficial ban on public debate about China policy and gave a common platform to leaders from many sectors to reshape the U.S. approach towards China. At the time U.S. presidents wanted to move closer to normalization of relations with China but faced resistance in Congress. By privately advising Johnson in 1968 and Nixon in 1970, members of the National Committee played a vital role in the move towards normalization of relations.

Programs: 1970s to 1990s[edit]

During the years leading up to normalization of relations in 1979, the National Committee encouraged thoughtful discussion about China policy among Americans. The founders also believed that direct dialogue between Americans and Chinese would lead to improved understanding and productive relations, which would in turn enhance academic and business cooperation. Exchange programs, tours with Congressional leaders, and hosting events with visiting Chinese officials has been part of the Committee’s work since its earliest days.

The National Committee became the principal organization conducting public policy and other exchanges between China and the United States, and helped to shift U.S. policy and public opinion during the years leading up to the reopening of diplomatic relations in 1979.

In the 1980s the Committee expanded its work beyond its 1970s exchanges in civic affairs, education, performing arts, and athletics to a variety of fields, promoting sustained interchange between influential Chinese and Americans in governance, the media, urban planning, international relations, and economic planning and management. In the mid-1980s, the National Committee established the first formal, ongoing Track II (unofficial) discussion, the U.S.-China Dialogue, an off-the-record gathering of leading citizens of China and America; it was held another ten times before coming to an end in 2002.

While continuing its past programs of the past, during the 1990s, the National Committee focused on rule of law, legislative affairs and the expansion of civil society in China. These programs included regular exchanges of city mayors and municipal and provincial leaders, with an emphasis on urban planning, infrastructure development, sustainable development and related environmental concerns; programs in judicial training and exchanges of senior judges, including a 1996 trip to China by U.S. supreme court justice Anthony M. Kennedy; and exchanges and programs focused on banking and economic policy development, journalism, NGO and foundation development, human rights, public health and economic development.

Programs from 2000-present: evolving role in global cooperation[edit]

Beginning in the 2000s, the National Committee expanded its range with several initiatives that included: The Diplomat Orientation Program, a study-tour providing a firsthand overview of American society, history and politics to Chinese officials and consular officers. A series of in-depth briefings on China for U.S. military officers is designed to broaden their understanding of China's culture, society, and politics, to enhance their dealings in the region. And the Teachers Exchange Program (1996-2014), which provided full academic-year opportunities for Chinese (K–12) teachers to teach in the United States and American teachers to teach in China.

The National Committee also developed a 2005 program on community planning for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment; a ground-breaking 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 under the U.S.-China Labor Law Cooperation Project; a 2009 Land Use and Public Participation Program that addressed rights and ownership issues in land development; and the Museum and Educational Outreach program, to bring progressive educational methods to prominent museums in China.

The National Committee also expanded its public education programs, and now regularly provides timely information directly from leading specialists on major issues of the U.S.-China relationship through seminars, panel programs, publications, e-mail briefings and conference calls.

Past and Current Leadership[edit]

The National Committee is a network of Americans from all parts of the country as well as corporations and professional firms. They bring many different perspectives on issues and priorities in U.S.-China relations, but share a commitment to ongoing public education and the enabling of face-to-face contact. Members of the Committee and its board of directors include many 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 fluent Mandarin and was a member of the State Department legal team that created the framework for the historic opening in 1979. He has also served as president of Lehman Brothers Asia and as managing director of Carlyle Asia. Former presidents and executive directors John Holden, David M. Lampton, Arthur Rosen, and Preston Schoyer also had extensive China experience. Vice president Jan Berris has been with the National Committee since 1971 and has managed and led hundreds of delegations between the United States and China, including the 1972 Chinese Ping Pong Team visit—the first PRC group to set foot in the United States. The Committee has had a long line of distinguished chairpersons whose prestige and influence has been of great help to the organization; the latest is The Honorable Carla Hills, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Trade Representative.

Board of directors[edit]

Vice Chairs

Keith W. Abell


I. Peter Wolff

Former Chairs

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, J. (1986). The evolution of Sino-American relations: A view from the National Committee. In J. K. Kallgren & D. F. Simon (Eds.), Educational Exchanges: Essays on the Sino-American Experience (p. 92). Berkeley: University of California, Institute of East Asian Studies.
  • 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.
  • 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, R., & Mang, P. (1976). A History of the Origins of the National Committee on United States–China Relations. 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
  • Scalapino, R. A. (1967). An annotated guide to modern China. New York: National Committee on United States–China Relations.
  • Norton Wheeler. The Role of American NGOs in China's Modernization: Invited Influence. (New York: Routledge, Asia's Transformations, 2012). 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