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August 7-15, 2007

Policymakers Seminar and Trip to China

The U.S.-China Policy Foundation has completed another successful year with the Policymakers Program. In early February, the foundation began the recruiting process 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 the selection process. At that time we extended invitations to several China scholars requesting their participation in the seminar portion of the program.

In May, the foundation selected a bipartisan group of 10 congressional staffers for the program. Following notification of their acceptance, they attended a series of six seminars to learn about Chinese history, economics, politics, security and U.S.-China relations. On August 7, 9 staff members departed for a week-long trip to China to experience much of what they had learned, first-hand.

This year’s series of seminars comprised 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 China past and present; Dr. Paul Heer, a senior CIA political analyst, on China’s domestic politics; Admiral Eric McVadon, retired rear admiral and former Naval attache to the U.S. Embassy, on China’s security interests; Dr. Pieter Bottelier, adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, SAIS and senior advisor at the World Bank, on economics and U.S.-China trade; and Dr. David Lampton, director of Chinese studies, Johns Hopkins University, SAIS on the Chinese leadership. This year, the final lecture of the series was a comprehensive trip briefing conducted by Dr. Ernestine Wang, Director of Program for the U.S.-China Policy Foundation.

In Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai, the delegation met with Chinese officials, business leaders, lawmakers, and scholars. In Beijing, program participants met with the U.S. ambassador to China and other representatives from the U.S. Embassy, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Ministry of Commerce, National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs. While in Xian, the staffers visited the Children’s Welfare Institution and met with officials from the Provincial People’s Congress. After arriving at their final destination, Shanghai, the group met with professors at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, representatives of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, and the Shanghai People’s Political Consultative Conference.

After 11 years, the program remains unique. It is the only one of its kind that prepares participants for their trip to China with seminars and lectures on a variety of subjects relating to China presented by top American scholars in the China field. By the time members of the delegation travel to China, they are equipped with a basic understanding of the country. The American embassy in Beijing always has welcomed our group enthusiastically. On many occasions, the U.S. ambassador to China also has participated in the briefing session. This year, the delegation members were fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with the Ambassador.

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 staff. Upon their return to the United States, this year’s participants reflected on their time in China, expressing how much they enjoyed the experience. Not only did the delegation members feel more knowledgeable about China, but they also felt better equipped to provide relevant and accurate information to members of congress regarding policies on China.

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