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May-August, 2005

Policymakers 2005 Trip and Seminar Series Concludes

The U.S.-China Policy Foundation has completed another successful year with the Policymakers Program. In early February, the Foundation began an intensive search for qualified candidates. We collected recommendations for new participants from the program’s alumni and sent information to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House International Relations Committee to recruit staffers. We received many letters of interest and applications from potential participants. By late March, we began to select participants and to invite China scholars for the seminar portion of the program.

In May, the Foundation selected a bipartisan group of 16 Congressional staffers for the program. They then attended seminars to learn about the major historic, economic, political and social features of the People’s Republic of China. On August 6, nine staffers began a week-long trip to China to experience much of what they learned first-hand.

This year’s program of seminars brought together an ensemble of unique expertise from a variety of fields related to China. Presentations were made by:

Professor William Johnson, professor emeritus, George Washington University, on History; Dr. David Finklestein, senior associate, Center for Strategic and International Studies, on Security; Dr. Paul Heer, a senior CIA political analyst, on China’s Domestic Politics; Mr. John Frisbee, President of the US-China Business Council, on Economics and Trade; Dr. David Lampton, director of Chinese studies, Johns Hopkins University, SAIS, on the Chinese Leadership; and Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy, former U.S. ambassador to China, on Sino-US Relations.

In Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai, the delegation met with Chinese officials, business leaders, lawmakers, and scholars. In Beijing, meetings were held with representatives of the United States Embassy, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Ministry of Commerce, the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, and the National People’s Congress. In Xian, the staffers visited an orphanage and a village that had held successful local elections. In Shanghai, the group met with representatives of the Shanghai Municipal Foreign Affairs Office, WTO Affairs Consultation Center, and the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

At the trip's conclusion, the staffers unanimously concurred that the seminars and trip were an important, worthwhile experience. In fact, three of the delegation members enjoyed the experience so much that they paid to have their tickets changed in order to stay in China an extra week!

After eight years, the program remains unique because it is the only one of its kind that prepares participants for their trip to China with seminars and lectures given by top American China scholars on a variety of subjects, including history and foreign policy. By the time staffers are ready to visit China, they are equipped with a basic understanding of the country. In most cases, the American Embassy in Beijing has been very happy to welcome our group. On many occasions, the U.S. ambassador to China also has participated in the briefing session. The program's success is well-known on Capitol Hill among those involved in the China field and has been praised by members of Congress and their staffs. After going through the program, participants are better prepared to provide relevant and important information to members of Congress regarding policy decisions on China.

For one participant's summary of the 2005 trip, click here.

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