Carter Center Hosts Symposium Marking 40 Years of U.S.-China Diplomatic Ties

Contact: In Atlanta, Soyia Ellison,

ATLANTA — Forty years after U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping ended three decades of estrangement between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, The Carter Center will convene a three-day symposium on Sino-American relations.

The symposium, which takes place Jan. 17-19, will include talks and panel discussions featuring several dozen leading scholars, think-tank experts, and veterans of statecraft. Much of the event, including keynote remarks on the morning of Jan. 18 by President Carter and Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai, will be open to the press.

The symposium comes at a critical time for U.S.-China relations, which in recent months have been marked by increasing tension and an acrimonious trade war.

“As President Carter himself recently noted, the benefits that both our countries have reaped from four decades of increasing cooperation are now in jeopardy because of a deterioration of trust and respect in both capitals,” said Carter Center CEO Ambassador (ret.) Mary Ann Peters. “Ensuring that the United States and China can continue to navigate toward collaboration on bilateral and global issues is one of the vital challenges of our time.”

Background: On Dec. 15, 1978, Carter and Deng announced that they would “normalize” diplomatic ties between the two nations on Jan. 1, 1979, laying the foundation for the rapid growth of bilateral relations. Today, the American and Chinese economies are the world’s two largest, and Sino-American economic, political, and military relations weigh heavily on the global future. President Carter’s breakthrough with China stands as one of the major foreign-policy accomplishments of his presidency.


Thursday, Jan. 17
Ivan Allen Chapel, The Carter Center
9-9:45 a.m. Opening remarks from Carter Center CEO Mary Ann Peters, Stephen Orlins, president of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations; Wang Boming, editor-in-chief of Caijing Magazine, and Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council
10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Roundtable: The Role of University Exchange and U.S.-China Relations
12-1:30 p.m. Lunch featuring speaker David Matthews, president and CEO of the Kettering Foundation
1:40-3:10 p.m. Roundtable: The Impact of Values and Misperceptions on U.S.-China Relations
3:30-5 p.m. Roundtable: Young Scholars and U.S.-China Relations
5:30-8 p.m. Gala at Fernbank Museum honoring President Carter (tickets must be purchased through co-sponsor National Association of Chinese Americans at
Friday, Jan. 18
Ivan Allen Chapel, The Carter Center
9-9:45 a.m.  Opening remarks from Carter Center CEO Mary Ann Peters; Li Xiaolin, president of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries; Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai; former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (Note: President Carter’s remarks will be livestreamed on the Carter Center’s Twitter account; follow the conversation using #CarterChina40Years.)
9:50-10:50 a.m. Keynote speeches from Susan Thornton, former acting assistant secretary of state, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and Zhou Mingwei, former president of the China International Publishing Group
Saturday, Jan. 19
White Hall, Emory University
9-9:30 a.m. Opening remarks from Dwight Ma, president of the Student Government Association at Emory University; Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for the South China Sea Studies; Michael A. Elliott, professor and dean, Emory College School of Arts and Sciences
9:30-11 a.m. Panel: U.S.-China Political and Security Issues
11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Panel: U.S.-China Trade and Investment Issues
12:15 - 1:30 p.m. Lunch featuring speakers David Shambaugh of George Washington University and Yu Yunquan of the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies
1:30-3 p.m. Panel: U.S.-China Healthcare Industry Cooperation
3:15-4:30 p.m. Panel: U.S.-China Maritime Disputes
4:30-6 p.m. Panel: Doing Business in America and China

Press attendance: Press are welcome to attend any of the above events. Please RSVP to Soyia Ellison at by Wednesday, Jan. 16, at noon.

Conference Papers: Many of the major papers presented during the Jan. 18 sessions will be available on by 10 a.m. that day.

Symposium Sponsors: The Kettering Foundation, Fordham University, Emory University, the Institute of American Studies at The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.


"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.