Susan A. Thornton delivered the 2019 Barnett-Oksenberg Lecture on Sino-American Relations in Shanghai on Wednesday, May 15. Now in its twelfth year, this annual lecture affords the opportunity for a frank and forthright discussion of current and potential issues between the two countries; it is the first and only ongoing lecture series on U.S.-China relations that takes place on the Mainland.

Susan A. Thornton is a retired senior U.S. diplomat with almost 30 years of experience with the U.S. State Department in Eurasia and East Asia. She is currently a senior fellow and research scholar at Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center.
Until July 2018, Thornton was acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State and led East Asia policy making amid crises with North Korea, escalating trade tensions with China, and a fast-changing international environment. In previous State Department roles, she worked on China and Korea policy and served in leadership positions at U.S. embassies in Central Asia, Russia, the Caucasus, and China. She speaks Russian and Mandarin Chinese.

The lecture is named in honor of the late A. Doak Barnett and the late Michel Oksenberg, both American scholars and policymakers of distinction whose writing and actions had a direct impact on the bilateral relationship dating back to the 1960s. The two were also leaders of the National Committee and devoted much time and effort to the work of the organization. Doak was one of the founding members and second chairman of the Committee and both gentlemen served on our board for decades.

The program, co-sponsored by the National Committee and the Shanghai Association of American Studies, with the cooperation of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, is usually timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Shanghai Communiqué on February 27, 1972. This seminal document, negotiated by President Richard Nixon and Premier Zhou Enlai, was the first joint statement to be issued by the leaders of the United States and the People's Republic of China. Although limited in its content, the Shanghai Communiqué laid the groundwork for the establishment of official diplomatic relations toward the end of the decade.

The following distinguished individuals have spoken in this series:

  • 2019: Susan A. Thornton, Senior Fellow, Paul Tsai China Center, Yale Law School; former Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian & Pacific Affairs
    2017: The Honorable William J. Perry, 19th Secretary of Defense for the United States; Michael and Barbara Berberian Professor (emeritus), Stanford University
  • 2015: Dr. David M. Lampton, George and Sadie Hyman Professor and Director of SAIS-China and China Studies, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
  • 2014: The Honorable Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States
  • 2013: The Honorable Jeffrey A. Bader, John Whitehead Senior Fellow in International Diplomacy, John L. Thornton China Center, The Brookings Institution; former Special Advisor to the President and Senior Director for East Asian Affairs at the National Security Council; U.S. Ambassador to Namibia
  • 2012: The Honorable Gary Locke, Ambassador to China; former Secretary of Commerce and Governor of Washington State
  • 2011: The Honorable Jon M. Huntsman, U.S. Ambassador to China; former Governor of Utah and U.S. Ambassador to Singapore
  • 2010: The Honorable Carla A. Hills, Chair, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations; Chair and CEO, Hills & Company International Consultants; former U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  • 2008: The Honorable Chas W. Freeman, Jr., Founder and Chairman of Projects International; former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and Chargé at the American embassies in Beijing and Bangkok
  • 2007: The Honorable Robert B. Zoellick, Vice Chairman, International and Managing Director, Goldman Sachs; former World Bank President, U.S. Trade Representative, and Deputy Secretary of State
  • 2006: Dr. Kenneth G. Lieberthal, Professor of Political Science and William Davidson Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan; Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development at The Brookings Institution; former Special Advisor to the President and Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council
  • 2005: The Honorable J. Stapleton Roy, Head, Woodrow Wilson Institute’s Kissinger Center on China; Former Ambassador to China, Indonesia and Singapore
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
4:00 AM EDT

Susan A. Thornton

The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai

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