China-United States Exchange Foundation President James Chau Speaks at Harvard Kennedy School China Conference


Invokes late President Kennedy’s call to win hearts and minds of people everywhere;

Says U.S.-China relationship is “at a point of inflection, but also opportunity… Progress is possible”

President of the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), James Chau, was honored to provide the congratulatory remarks at the recent fifth edition of the Harvard Kennedy School China Conference, which also featured eminent speakers including Ambassador Xie Feng, China’s top envoy in Washington, D.C, Professor Graham Allison, the renowned American scholar who served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense in the first Clinton Administration, and others.

(Chinese Ambassador to the United States Xie Feng)

The China Conference is an annual, student-led event which was held this year on April 21-22 at Harvard’s main campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This year’s conference explored the theme of rebuilding trust in turbulent times, focusing on areas of dispute and collaboration such as the global governance of artificial intelligence, semiconductors and geopolitics, and relations between China and Southeast Asia.

The conference opening featured Ambassador Xie, Professor Allison, and Dr. Xue Lan, Dean of Tsinghua’s Schwarzman College, who collectively called for improved relations 45 years after January 1979, when U.S. President Jimmy Carter and China’s leader Deng Xiaoping made history by normalizing relations.

Speaking from Hong Kong, Mr. Chau, who also serves the United Nations as World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador, noted the symbolism of the China Conference taking place inside the Harvard Kennedy School’s John F. Kennedy Forum and the need — 61 years after his death — to invoke the former president’s legacy to win the hearts and minds “not only of the American and Chinese people, but people everywhere.”

“Clearly, when we look at the bilateral relationship, we have arrived at a point of inflection and opportunity,” said Mr. Chau. “The meeting in California last November between President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping is proof that progress is possible — through joint work on curbing fentanyl, restoring military communications, reversing the impact of climate change globally, and much more.”

Mr. Chau also spoke of the importance of measured reactions in a time of heightened fear and suspicion, saying: “Take criticism not as an attack, but as an open invitation to dialogue, communication, and also peace. Criticism can be an expression of concern from the people closest to us — and from people who care much more about us than we actually think.”

Other high-level speakers from the world’s leading economies were represented throughout the weekend program, including: Susan Thornton, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; Professor Tony Saich, faculty chair of Harvard’s China programs who first visited the East Asian country as a student in 1976; and Gita Wirjawan, Chairman of Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board and former Minister of Trade.