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This series features brief discussions with leading China experts on a range of issues in the U.S.-China relationship, including domestic politics, foreign policy, economics, security, culture, the environment, and areas of global concern. For more interviews, videos, and links to events, visit our website:

The National Committee on U.S.-China Relations is the leading nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that encourages understanding of China and the United States among citizens of both countries.

Mar 17, 2023

Over the past few years, we have marked the 50th anniversaries of official visits to China by then National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and President Richard Nixon. Historians have scrutinized the records of their conversations with Chinese leaders, but less attention has been given to people-to-people exchange that began with “ping-pong diplomacy.” Based on archival sources in China and the United States and numerous interviews, Pete Millwood argues in Improbable Diplomats that the significance of cultural and scientific exchanges goes beyond reacquainting the Chinese and American people with each other after two decades of minimal contact; exchanges also influenced Sino-American diplomatic relations and helped transform post-Mao China.

In an interview conducted on March 9, 2023Pete Millwood discusses with Alison Friedman how a diverse cast of Chinese and Americans – athletes and physicists, performing artists and seismologists – played a critical, but often overlooked, role in remaking U.S.-China relations.

About the speakers:

Read the transcript of this conversation

Follow Pete Millwood on Twitter: @PeteMillwood

Follow Alison Friedman on Twitter: @AlisonMFriedman

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