2010 US Foreign Policy Colloquium Recap

U.S. Foreign Policy Colloquium
U.S. Foreign Policy Colloquium

I recently met with a friend who attended the U.S. Foreign Policy Colloquium at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. this May. The U.S. Foreign Policy Colloquium (FPC) is an exciting three-day program designed to help Chinese graduate students and visiting scholars of all disciplines better understand the complex forces that shape American foreign policy. A certificate is issued at the completion of the program by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

Talking with her has brought back memories of me attending this interesting colloquium four years ago. I had just completed my first year in the PhD program, and was working two jobs (teaching assistant at Georgia Tech, and science & tech policy analyst at the Georgia Tech Research Institute), so I asked for a leave of absence to attend this colloquium. I received a modest travel stipend to travel to D.C., and stayed in an undergraduate GW dorm with three other Chinese grad students for the duration of the conference.

The colloquium had an extremely tight schedule; we attended numerous sessions on a variety of topics related to U.S. foreign policy making and U.S.-China relations.Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution, delivered the keynote speech on the Obama administration’s foreign policy strategy at the opening reception on Wednesday night. J. Stapleton Roy, former US Ambassador to China, and Zhang Yesui, then P.R.C. ambassador to the U.S. were among the speakers giving welcoming remarks at the opening session.  Leading policy makers, economists and political scientists, journalists, and businessmen and NGO leaders spoke at the colloquium about their views on U.S.-China relations and their experiences working with China. On the last day (Friday), Dr. Kenneth Lieberthal, a prominent China scholar at the Brookings Institutions gave an insightful closing speech on the competitions and partnerships between the two major powers.

USTR visit report

Reporting on our study tour of the  Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

One highlight of the colloquium was the “off-site briefing”. On Thursday afternoon we went on a field visit to a government office/think tank/institution that we expressed interest in our application to the program.  The site visit was designed to allow for close interaction with part of the U.S. foreign policy community and more practical understanding of the policy making process in Washington. I was among the group which went to visit the Office of the U.S. Trade Representatives. Our group had a brief round table discussion with the staff responsible for managing China affairs  at the USTR. Then on Friday afternoon, each group presented a summary of their site visit. Our group was very collegial and each group member reflected on our tour experiences. I got to speak for about a minute about the experience and my roommate, who also went to the USTR, took this photo for me. Look at all the notes that we put up on the whiteboard!

Overall, this was a very beneficial training experience well worth the time and the money (very cheap registration and accommodation). The nice trip to Washington D.C was also a nice break from the bustling summer hours of grading and writing on science & tech state legislations. I’ve also met some very nice fellow students and experts during this program, which I very much cherish. I highly recommend the program to other P.R.C. graduate students in any discipline – whether you are studying engineering, physics, arts or business, politics between U.S. and China affects our lives as graduate students studying here.

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