Friday, April 16, 2010 | 12:30 PM EDT - 2:00 PM EDT

Ma Zhengang, former Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom and current president of the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), visited the National Committee office for a small, off-the-record roundtable discussion. Ambassador Ma was joined by scholars from CIIS and Peking University, and an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ambassador Ma talked about the current state of the U.S.-China relationship, touching both on recent achievements and setbacks. Topics ranged from nuclear proliferation in Iran to Taiwan arms sales, economic balance, energy and commodity pricing, and legislation affecting bilateral trade. That recent tensions had not rocked the foundation of the U.S.-China relationship, National Committee president Steve Orlins said, is a testament to its strength and comprehensiveness.

There was much discussion of the steps that could be taken to ensure cooperative business relations between the two countries. The business community has long supported a strong U.S.-China relationship, one participant said, but recent policies on “indigenous innovation” and trade protectionism threaten to erode that support. A new cross-departmental office might be created to coordinate and promote responsible economic and business policymaking.