Monday, January 12, 2009 | 5:00 AM EST

In mid-January a two-day seminar was held in Beijing that brought together many of those who were involved in the 1979 normalization of relations between China and the United States. The Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) and the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States were the sponsors, the National Committee was a co-sponsor and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided support. The National Committee organized a stellar group that included Secretary Henry Kissinger; National Security Advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft; Ambassadors Winston Lord, J. Stapleton Roy, James Sasser and Joseph Prueher along with Sharon Woodcock, the widow of our first Ambassador to the PRC, Leonard Woodcock; former governor of Washington Gary Locke; several former American Consuls General at various Consulates in China (including Don Anderson and Dick Williams who opened the Consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou respectively); Hank Greenberg and other corporate leaders deeply involved in the relationship; and academics and NGO leaders too numerous to mention. President Carter attended the opening ceremony of the conference as well as other related programs mentioned below. Several of our group gave speeches, transcripts of which can be found on this page. Related events included a dinner for several hundred people closely involved in Sino-American relations at the Great Hall of the People (organized by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries [CPAFFC] with keynote addresses by President Carter and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping); a ribbon cutting ceremony for a major photo exhibit (also organized by CPAFFC, and presided over by State Councilor Dai Bingguo); a luncheon hosted by Ambassador and Mrs. Sandy Randt for the American participants; a reception at the new American Embassy hosted by the Embassy’s Public Affairs Office and the National Committee for a few hundred people who have worked on the relationship over the years; smaller meetings with President Hu Jintao, Vice President Xi Jinping and Premier Wen Jiabao; and a panel session hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce that featured Ambassadors Lord, Prueher and Mrs. Woodcock. Among the many Chinese current and former officials gathered for the occasion, several gave speeches: these included former Vice Premier Qian Qichen, former State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Zhaoxing, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Zhao Qizheng, former Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations Li Daoyu, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs He Yafei, former Ambassador to Germany and President of CPIFA Mei Zhaorong, former Ambassador to Canada and Vice President of CPIFA Zhang Wenpu, Chairman of the China Institute of International Strategic studies Xiong Guangkai, President of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies Yang Jiemian and Senior Fellow of Tsinghua University’s Center for China-U.S. Relations Zhou Shijian.