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Annual Policymakers Seminar Series and Trip to China

The U.S.-China Policy Foundation’s fourth annual Policymakers seminar series (May 3-August 2, 2002) and adjoining trip to China (August 10-18, 2002) for U.S. Congressional staff members came to a successful conclusion at the end of August. The program is designed to give a select number of congressional staff, who have limited knowledge of China, an opportunity to enhance their understanding of the country and the complexity of U.S.-China relations. Dr. Frederick Crook, an experienced professional in the China field and former economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, served as the coordinator of the lecture series and group leader in China.

This year, a bipartisan group of fifteen staffers from both the House of Representatives and the Senate participated in eight bi-weekly participatory seminars delivered by specialists in the China field. Presentations were made by: Robert Kapp, President, U.S.-China Business Council; Carol Hamrin, Chinese Affairs Specialists, formerly of the U.S. Department of State; Paul Heer, Central Intelligence Agency; Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy; Bates Gill, Freeman Chair in China Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Nicholas Lardy, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, Bill Johnson, Professor Emeritus, George Washington University; and a meeting with the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Presentations and discussions were held on several broad topics: China’s political system, economic reforms, security and military affairs, foreign affairs, civil society, and the future of bilateral relations.

Ten of the fifteen seminar participants continued on the educational trip to China, arranged and hosted by the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA). A series of discussions were held in Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai with China’s government officials, lawmakers, academics, and U.S. ex-patriot corporate executives. In Beijing, meetings were held with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), and Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC). In Xian, the delegation met with village officials who explained the democratic elections that had taken place in their village. In Shanghai, the group met with representatives of the Shanghai Municipal Foreign Affairs Office. Day trips were made to sites of historical and contemporary significance in these all three cities to familiarize staffers with Chinese culture, history, and efforts toward economic development.

During each visit, hosts briefed the delegation on the main function and components of their respective institution. This introduction was followed by an exchange of views, initiated by questions posed by members of the group. The issues staffers most frequently inquired about include: accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and implantation of ‘rule of law’; Falun Gong and religious freedom, intellectual property rights; China’s banking system; perspectives on regional security in reference to cross-strait relations; and China’s Social Security system.

The response from both seminar and trip participants has been overwhelmingly positive. At a reunion lunch in early September, staffers praised the informative and interesting presentations made during the summer. Trip participants, most of whom had never been to Asia before, left with a greater appreciation of China’s traditions, culture, and people. The U.S.-China Policy Foundation plans to expand the scope of our programming for Congressional staff next year and wishes to thank the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA), in particular Mr. Hao Guang-feng and Mr. Hong Bin, for the smooth arrangements and facilitating the lively discussions throughout the trip. The U.S.-China Policy Foundation also expresses deep appreciation to the Freeman Foundation for their financial support of the trip.

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