Following decades of enmity, on December 15, 1978, the United States and China announced the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries as of January 1, 1979. Diplomatic rapprochement offered hope that the countries would be able to look beyond their differences to cooperate on the global stage.

On December 18, 2018, the National Committee convened a panel representing the diverse fields of business, diplomacy, arts and culture, and academic exchange to reflect on where the bilateral relationship was 40 years ago, is today, and may be headed in the future.

Cathy Barbash is a specialist in cultural diplomacy and creative industry development and an independent producer, working primarily with the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Cuba. Barbash has spent over 35 years managing and consulting to organizations including The Philadelphia Orchestra, the United States Department of State, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China, Arts Midwest, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Juilliard School, Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment, China Shanghai International Arts Festival, and the China National Centre for the Performing Arts. She was the lead architect of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s current China tour/residency project. Since normalization of United States-Cuba relations, she has worked with La Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba, Casa de las Américas, and the Festival Jazz Plaza Havana.  

Chas W. Freeman, Jr. is a senior fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. He is the former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs (1993–1994), ambassador to Saudi Arabia (1989–1992), principal deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs (1986–1989), and chargé d'affaires in Bangkok (1984–1986) and Beijing (1981–1984). He served as vice chair of the Atlantic Council (1996-2008), co-chair of the United States China Policy Foundation (1996–2009), and president of the Middle East Policy Council (1997–2009).  

Mr. Maurice R. Greenberg is chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr & Co., Inc. Mr. Greenberg retired as chairman and CEO of American International Group (AIG) in March 2005. AIG was created by C.V. Starr & Co., Inc. Under his leadership, AIG became the largest insurance and financial services company in the world. He serves on the President’s Council on International Activities of Yale University and is honorary vice chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the past chairman and director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He is active on the boards of many other civic and charitable organizations working in the United States and Asia.

David M. Lampton is Hyman Professor and director of China Studies Emeritus at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where he currently is senior fellow at SAIS’ Foreign Policy Institute. He will be an Oksenberg-Rohlen fellow and research scholar at Stanford University’s Asia Pacific Research Center beginning in January 2019. Having started his academic career at the Ohio State University, Dr. Lampton is chairman of the Asia Foundation, former president of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and former Dean of Faculty at SAIS. He now serves as a director of the National Committee. He is the author of Same Bed, Different Dreams: Managing U.S.-China Relations, 1989-2000 (2001); The Three Faces of Chinese Power: Might, Money, and Minds (2008); and, The Making of Chinese Foreign and Security Policy (editor, Stanford University Press, 2001).

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