Wednesday, May 3, 2006 | 12:00 AM EDT - 12:00 AM EDT

Professor Lucian Pye and Professor Robert A. Scalapino, two distinguished scholars in the field of U.S.-China relations who have served as National Committee chairmen, discussed the founding of the National Committee, its work over the past 40 years and the role it might play in the future at a May 3 anniversary program in New York City. National Committee chair Carla Hills welcomed the many current and former directors, members and guests who attended the program.

National Committee president Steve Orlins moderated the program. During the discussion, Professor Scalapino pointed to four principles that the founders decided should guide the Committee’s work. The organization should be non-governmental; its membership should include Americans from a wide range of sectors; it would not advocate for a particular position; and it would reach out to the younger generation. Professor Pye pointed to diversity and flexibility as two keys to the Committee’s endurance and strength. From the onset, the Committee welcomed a diverse set of views (its founders included academics, Quakers, business people and former diplomats), as it was felt that this enabled issues to be fully considered from a range of perspectives. By remaining flexible, it has been able to keep pace with changes in China and in the Sino-American relationship and adjust to current circumstances as they presented themselves.