Historic First

In May 1977, a delegation organized by the National Committee, with the assistance of the American Council of Young Political Leaders, traveled to China for three weeks on the first visit of its kind.

Thomas P. O’Neill III, lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, served as the delegation’s leader. R. Spencer Oliver, staff director of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and former national president of the Young Democrats, and Audrey Rowe-Colom, chairwoman of the National Women’s Caucus and director of women’s activities at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, were deputy leaders. Neil Goldschmidt, future governor of Oregon, Sidney Barthelemy, future mayor of New Orleans, and Carol Bellamy, future New York City council president, and head of the Peace Corps and UNICEF, were also members of the group.

The Chinese host organization was the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, which arranged a full schedule of meetings and seminars with Chinese officials. Among other activities in Beijing was a discussion with Vice Premier Li Xiannian, covering subjects ranging from U.S.-China relations to Chinese developmental priorities, and with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Haizheng, on China’s foreign policy. The itinerary also included stops in Hohhot (and the Mongolian grasslands to the north), Changsha, Wuxi, and Shanghai.