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April 16, 2019

U.S.-China Crisis Management During the 1989 Tiananmen Crisis

Event Series: "China's New Era" Seminar Series

Speakers and guests seated around a table.

In the spring of 1989, United States-China relations experienced one of its most difficult crises when China's leadership made the decision to clear student demonstrators from Tiananmen Square using a military assault. In recognition of the thirtieth anniversary of this event three highly experienced U.S. foreign policy professionals who were in key policy positions during that period discussed their recollections of the crisis and their role in managing the aftermath. The discussion was moderated by Dennis Wilder, managing director for the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues.

The event was co-sponsored by the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues and the Walsh School of Foreign Service Asian Studies Program.


Carolyn Bartholomew is chairman of the Congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Bartholomew has worked at senior levels in the U.S. Congress, serving as counsel, legislative director, and chief of staff to now House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Douglas Paal is a distinguished fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He previously served as vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase International and was an unofficial U.S. representative to Taiwan as director of the American Institute in Taiwan from 2002 to 2006. He was on the National Security Council staffs of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush between 1986 and 1993.

Robert Suettinger is a nonresident senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies program and an affiliated fellow of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution. He served as national intelligence officer for East Asia on the National Intelligence Council; director of Asian affairs for the National Security Council (1994-1997); and in several analytical positions with the U.S. Department of State.

Dennis Wilder is the managing director for the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues at Georgetown University, where he also serves as an assistant professor of practice in Asian studies in the School of Foreign Service.