Since 2004, the National Committee has been selecting twelve graduating U.S. high school seniors who have received national recognition for their accomplishments to participate in the yearly U.S.-China Student Leaders Exchange. For the young American participants, the heart of the program is a two-week study visit to China during the summer between high school and college. Americans participants learn about China's successes and challenges and have unusual opportunities to meet and exchange ideas with their Chinese counterparts as a consequence of homestays throughout most of the program.
It was as National Committee Gala keynote speaker in 2005 that Robert Zoellick, then Deputy Secretary of State, first publicly urged China to become a "responsible stakeholder." Zoellick's much-celebrated term caused great consternation among Chinese interpreters (who, interestingly, had significant difficulty coming up with a nuanced translation of "stakeholder"). Nonetheless it was quickly embraced by both the American and Chinese policy communities and continues to generate lively discussion about China's desired role in the international system.