During the opening months of the 113th session of Congress, the National Committee again organized a briefing for freshman Members of Congress on critical issues in the U.S.-China relationship. Headlined by Governor Jon Huntsman, former U.S. ambassador to China (and a former National Committee director), this session was the fourth of its kind in as many election cycles. Governor Huntsman drew on his vast experience with China to comment on the present-day bilateral relationship in an off-the-record session on Capitol Hill.
The Committee recognized an opportunity to educate incoming members of Congress in this way as a result of the November 2006 elections, which saw a dramatic political shift in both the House and the Senate. Informing policymakers on issues facing the U.S.-China relationship in order to shape a constructive political dialogue has always been one of the National Committee’s chief missions. Working in conjunction with the bipartisan congressional U.S.-China Working Group, the Committee sought to continue this tradition by providing the next generation of congressional leaders with a comprehensive overview of the bilateral relationship between the United States and China from the perspective of past administration officials.
In 2007, the Committee invited former Secretaries of State Dr. Henry Kissinger and Dr. Madeleine Albright, two key players in the previous 30 years of diplomacy, to discuss not only their historical dealings with China, but also their views about the future of the relationship. Dr. Kissinger told stories about his experiences establishing relations with China in the early 1970s; he also addressed some of the critical issues, such as massive social and economic changes, impacting China and the Sino-American relationship today. Dr. Albright commented on the future of Sino-American relations and China’s place in the global community — touching on issues such as energy security, military growth, and environmental degradation.
The depth and frankness of the session reflected the new members’ keen interest in U.S.-China relations, prompting the Committee to organize additional sessions following each successive election. Former National Security Advisor General Brent Scowcroft and Dr. Albright led the briefing following the 2008 elections; former Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy and General Scowcroft led the briefing following the 2010 elections.