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September 22, 2022

The Role of Individuals in the U.S.-China Relationship

Event Series: U.S.-China People-to-People Diplomacy Series

Showing the The Role of Individuals in the U.S.-China Relationship Video

The U.S.-China relationship consists of far more than the exchanges between diplomatic officials and their counterparts. People across art, business, education, journalism, and science communities and beyond have been bridges connecting the United States and China for generations, fostering deep and nuanced forms of exchange. Amid what seems to be a deepening schism at the top between Beijing and Washington, how have individuals shaped this complex relationship? Can émigrés and expats diversify the scope of bilateral ties? This expert panel explored the role of individuals and members of diaspora communities in the U.S.-China relationship.

This dialogue was co-sponsored by Georgetown University's Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues and Asian Studies Program in the School of Foreign Service.


Terry Lautz writes and teaches on the history of United States-China relations. He is former vice president of the Henry Luce Foundation and he has chaired the Harvard-Yenching Institute, the Lingnan Foundation, and the Yale-China Association. He is the author of Americans in China: Encounters with the People’s Republic (2022).

Cheng Li is the director of the John L. Thornton China Center and a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. He is also a director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. Li focuses on the transformation of political leaders, generational change, and technological development in China. He is the author of Middle Class Shanghai: Reshaping U.S.-China Engagement (2021).

Nancy Yao Maasbach has served as the president of the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) since 2015, promoting arts and culture as a bridge between peoples and executing research focused on redefining the American narrative by examining the role of Chinese Americans in U.S. history. Previously, she was the executive director of the Yale-China Association, where she led programs in the arts, education, and health.

Evan Medeiros (moderator) is the Penner Family Chair in Asian Studies at the School of Foreign Service and a senior fellow with the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues. Medeiros has in-depth experience in U.S. policy toward the Asia-Pacific from his time on the National Security Council as director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia, and then as special assistant to the president and senior director for Asia under President Barack Obama.