The National Committee regularly sends members of Congress to China, having arranged and escorted eight delegations since 2006. The week-long study tours are designed to educate the congressmen and women about China through personal introductions to senior Chinese leaders and a range of informative site visits and meetings.
These visits complement the National Committee’s other efforts to educate Congress on issues relating to China, including its Congressional Staff Delegations to China and Capitol Hill Briefings for New Members of Congress. The organization has a long tradition of congressional education, beginning in 1976, when it organized the first delegation of congressional staffers to the People’s Republic of China.
After a hiatus of two decades, the National Committee’s involvement in congressional delegations to China was renewed shortly after China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s (CNOOC) attempted acquisition of UNOCAL in 2005 failed due to congressional objections. This was a vivid reminder of the importance of the American Congress in U.S.-China relations and the valuable role that the National Committee could play in congressional leadership education.
The National Committee took a major step in this direction in January 2006 when, for the first time in many years, it escorted the two co-chairs of the newly formed bipartisan congressional U.S.-China Working Group (USCWG), Rick Larsen (D-Washington) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), and a member of the Working Group, Tom Feeney (R-Florida) to China. National Committee President Stephen Orlins accompanied the delegation, which also included the two co-staff directors of the USCWG. With a focus on border and security issues, the delegation was the first foreign group since 1989 to visit the manned-space launch center in Jiuquan, where the vice space administrator agreed to work with NASA in developing a joint space rescue capability.
2019 Congressional Members Delegation
March 16, 2019 to March 24, 2019
Hong Kong, Hangzhou, and Beijing, China
In March 2019, the National Committee escorted its eighth congressional delegation to China, traveling to Hong Kong, Hangzhou, and Beijing. The group was led by the two current co-chairs of the USCWG, Congressmen Rick Larsen (D-WA-2) and Darin LaHood (R-IL-18), joined by Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA-26) and Congressmen Bill Flores (R-TX-17), Greg Gianforte (R-MT), and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA-14). National Committee President Stephen Orlins and Matt Ferchen (a fellow in NCUSCR’s Public Intellectuals Program) escorted the delegation. Meetings focused on issues of trade, agriculture, tech and intellectual property, healthcare (including fentanyl and the opioid crisis), and the denuclearization of North Korea. The meetings in Hong Kong included many political and judicial leaders, such as Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Secretary of Justice Teresa Cheng. In Hangzhou, the delegation met with Municipal Party Secretary Zhou Jiangyong and Provincial Party Secretary Che Jun. The group met with Vice President Wang Qishan in Beijing, along with U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, the National People’s Congress Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as Standing Committee Chairman Li Zhanshu and Vice Chairman Wang Chen. The delegation also met with American and Chinese corporations, including Ford Motor Company and Alibaba, as well as local NGOs such as the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.
2017 Congressional Members Delegation
September 15, 2017 to September 24, 2017
Beijing, Tianjin, Jinan, and Qufu, China
In September 2017, the National Committee escorted a seventh group to Beijing, Tianjin, Jinan, and Qufu. The delegation was led by the two current co-chairs of the USCWG, Congressmen Rick Larsen (D-WA-2) and Darin LaHood (R-IL-18), joined by Congressmen Gregorio Sablan (D-NMI), Sean Maloney (D-NY-18), David Young (R-IA-3), and Roger Marshall (R-KS-1). Meetings focused on issues of agriculture, aviation, and environmental protection; the situation surrounding North Korea was also a frequent topic of discussion. The delegation met with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang in Zhongnanhai, Chair Madame Fu Ying of the National People’s Congress, vice ministers of various ministries including Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Environmental Protection, the Central Military Commission, foreign and local NGOs, American and Chinese businessmen, provincial and municipals officials from Shandong, among others.
2014 Congressional Members Delegation
March 15, 2014 to March 23, 2014
In March 2014, we sent four members of Congress — the two co-chairs of the U.S.-China Working Group (USCWG), Congressmen Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Charles Boustany (R-LA), along with Congressmen Kenny Marchant (R-TX) and Mike Quigley (D-IL) — on a weeklong trip to Beijing, Xi’an, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. The delegation was escorted by NCUSCR President Stephen Orlins, Fordham Law Professor Carl Minzner (a fellow in NCUSCR’s Public Intellectuals Program), and Terra Sabag and Florie Knauf, senior Hill staffers working in the offices of the USCWG co-chairs. The delegation focused its attention on the economic reforms outlined in the Third Plenum, the U.S.-China military/security relationship, and the current environment for U.S. businesses operating in China.
2013 Congressional Members Delegation
January 24, 2013 to January 31, 2013
Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong, China
In January 2013, the National Committee took a bipartisan delegation of five Members of Congress to Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong for meetings with senior Chinese policy makers and American diplomats, journalists, and business leaders to better understand China’s leadership, economic reforms, regional security issues, and domestic challenges, and to learn more about trade, U.S. businesses in China, and Hong Kong’s relations with the United States and with China. The delegation had discussions with a range of senior officials including Vice Premier Wang Qishan, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung, and a senior People’s Liberation Army official; were briefed by U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke; visited with American Chamber of Commerce and US-China Business Council corporate members; met several Beijing-based journalists from major U.S. news outlets; and met with a range of interlocutors from the business, academic, NGO, and policy sectors. The delegation, led by Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA), co-founder and co-chair of the U.S.-China Working Group, included Congressmen Jim Costa (D-CA), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Billy Long (R-MO), and Mike Turner (R-OH). National Committee President Stephen Orlins accompanied the group with Mary Gallagher, University of Michigan professor of political science and a fellow in NCUSCR’s Public Intellectuals Program, who served as scholar-escort.
2011 Congressional Members Delegation
April 23, 2011 to May 1, 2011
Beijing, Qingdao, Chengdu, and Shanghai, China
Five members of the bipartisan congressional U.S.-China Working Group (USCWG) traveled to China in April 2011 for the fourth such trip under National Committee auspices. The delegation, led by USCWG Co-chairmen Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-LA) and Rick Larsen (D-WA), visited Beijing, Qingdao, Chengdu, and Shanghai, with a focus on assessing and advancing the U.S.-China military-to-military relationship. Accompanied by National Committee President Stephen Orlins, the group also included Congressmen Mike Coffman (R-CO), Hank Johnson (D-GA), and Erik Paulsen (R-MN). The congressmen met with several senior leaders, including Minister Li Yuanchao of the CPC Organization Department, Vice Premier Wang Qishan, State Councilor Dai Bingguo, and PLA General Chen Bingde, and toured a Song-class submarine in Qingdao – the first group of civilians authorized to do so. In Chengdu, the congressmen engaged with graduate students from Sichuan University at a roundtable discussion on topics ranging from education to the rule of law.
2009 Congressional Members Delegation
May 23, 2009 to May 31, 2009
Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Beijing, China
The third trip to China that the National Committee has conducted for the bipartisan congressional U.S.-China Working Group (USCWG) focused on the effects of the financial and economic crisis on China’s economy, issues of concern to American companies in China, and Sino-American relations. As the mission of the USCWG is to educate members of Congress about the U.S.-China relationship, these member’s trips play an important part in encouraging American policies that are based on informed knowledge of China.
The delegation included USCWG Co-chairs Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Rick Larsen (D-WA) and their staff directors; National Committee President Stephen Orlins; and Public Intellectuals Program Fellow Scott Kennedy, an associate professor of political science at Indiana University and director of the Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business. The eight-day itinerary included Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Beijing.
In Beijing, the delegation met with several senior officials, including Vice Premier Wang Qishan, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming; Gao Xiqing, president of the China Investment Corporation; the head of the People’s Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan (a participant on a National Committee exchange in the early 1980s); and chairman of the Banking Regularory Commission Lu Mingkang.
Insightful discussions with local officials provided valuable perspectives on the local impacts of the global financial crisis, particularly Guangdong Provincial Party Secretary (and Politburo member) Wang Yang and Guangzhou Mayor Zhang Guangning; Minhang District Party Secretary Sun Chao; the director general of Shanghai’s office for financial services Fang Xinghai; Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang; the head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Joseph Yam; and the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury in the Hong Kong Government KC Chan. Former Chief Executive of Hong Kong C. H. Tung hosted a dinner for the group.
In each city, the group met with CEOs and representatives of major American companies in China as well as U.S. Embassy and Consulate officials to gain a clear picture of on-the-ground realities. These meetings included discussions at the American Chambers of Commerce in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing. Supplementing these meetings were visits to industrial sites including a Motorola plant and John Deere factory in Tianjin, and the Mattel and Baxter operations in Guangdong. The schedule was rounded out by more informal occasions such as a gathering with journalists from leading American publications, lunch with Chinese vice presidents of the National Basketball Association and an informal match that pitted Congressman Larsen against Chinese national basketball star Ma Jian.
For the congressmen and their staff, the trip reinforced the importance of the complex and dynamic ties between the two countries, particularly during the financial crisis, when mutual cooperation has the potential to promote positive developments worldwide.
2007 Congressional Members Delegation
August 24, 2007 to September 1, 2007
In 2007, the National Committee cooperated with the bipartisan congressional U.S.- China Working Group (USCWG), the National People’s Congress, and the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., on visits to China for USCWG congressional representatives and their staff. USCWG is a bipartisan initiative at the forefront of congressional dealings with issues of Sino-American relations, and focuses on educating Congress about China. The most recent visits focused on meetings with senior officials to discuss issues of importance to the representatives, their constituents and Congress, and have helped bring firsthand experience to policy debates at the national and local levels.
U.S.-China Working Group Co-chairs Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Rick Larsen (D-WA) traveled to China in August 2007, meeting with Wu Bangguo, chairman of the National People’s Congress, and Jiang Enzhu, chairman of the National People’s Congress Foreign Affairs Committee, among other senior officials. Talks covered issues of Sino-American trade, banking and financial reform, counter-terrorism measures, the environment, and food and product safety. Two highlights of the trip were the overview of China’s space program at the China Astronaut Research and Training Center with Yang Liwei, China’s renowned first man in space, and several days in Xinjiang, including a visit to China’s western border with Kyrgyzstan, to learn firsthand about counter-terror, border security, and narcotics control initiatives
2006 Congressional Members Delegation
January 8, 2006 to January 17, 2006
In January 2006, for first time in many years, the National Committee escorted the two co-chairs of the newly formed bipartisan congressional U.S.-China Working Group (USCWG), Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), and one of its members, Tom Feeney (R-FL) to China. National Committee President Stephen Orlins accompanied the delegation, which also included the two co-staff directors of the USCWG. With a focus on border and security issues, the congressmen discussed Sino-American cooperation in the Six-Party Talks, non-proliferation, trade frictions, protection of intellectual property rights, and cross-Strait relations, in meetings with senior representatives of the National People’s Congress (the host organization), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Defense, and other government agencies. They also traveled to Gansu Province for a rare tour of China’s space launch facility: the delegation was the first foreign group since 1989 to visit the manned-space launch center in Jiuquan, where the vice space administrator agreed to work with NASA in developing a joint space rescue capability. The group also traveled to Shanghai for meetings with municipal leaders and with several Chinese fellows in the National Committee’s Young Leaders Forum, and to Hong Kong for briefings with legislators, justices, and other officials.