Washington Seminar - 2008


Marcia Cooper, Peggy Roney and Allan Staib

The eighteenth biennial US-China Peoples Friendship Association’s Washington DC Seminar took place from April 16 and 17 at the Washington Hilton Hotel. Those attending indeed were in a busy international setting, as this hotel also was the world press headquarters for Pope Benedict XVI’s historic visit to the US Capital to meet with President George W. Bush. The attendant ceremony did not interrupt nor interfere with our organization’s activities, a compliment both to the planners and the facility.

Most regions held business meetings on Wednesday night before the conference began in earnest, freeing up attendees to concentrate on the business at hand. Thursday morning began its fast pace with a welcome by President Robert Sanborn after a continental breakfast. He introduced our honored guests, including Mr. Zhang Ping, Minister, Xin Shen, and Li Liansheng, all of the Peoples Republic of China Washington D.C. Embassy; Ms. Li Sanghua and Mr. Yao Mingyu, Director General of American and Oceania Department, both from the Beijing China Peoples Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries; and Lolan Wang Merklinger of Ottawa, President of the Federation of Canada-China Friendship Associations.

The morning then brought presentations by Dr. Robert Sutter of Georgetown University on “The Positive Equilibrium in US-China Relations – Status and Outlook,” Mr. Yao Mingyu of CPAFFC on “The Importance of Enhancing Mutual Understanding between China and the US, and Stephen Claeys, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations of the US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, about his department’s tools to bring about fair competition for American industry, remedial laws on unfairly priced imports and foreign subsidized imports.

After a break for lunch, sessions reconvened with co-presenters from the US Treasury Department Deputy Assistant for Asia Robert Dohner speaking on the risks and benefits of the revaluation of the yuan and Policy Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury Eugene Huang addressing “The US-China Ten Year Cooperative Environmental Agreement of December 2007”and its impact on China and the US as the world’s two largest energy consumers. Preston Torbert, Partner and Founder of the China Practice of Baker and McKenzie International Law Firm in Chicago then spoke on China’s new “Journey to the West” in its adoption of commercial best practices and economic and legal reforms. Diane Greer, free-lance musician and USCPFA Board Member lightened the afternoon with an introduction to Chinese music and a Chinese folk sing-along.

Following a break, the group boarded a comfortable bus for a brief tour of the area by the National Cathedral and a reception at the Chinese Embassy on Connecticut Avenue NW. As the embassy is moving to a new location on Wisconsin Avenue, this provided a last chance for most attendees to visit this building. Hosted by Minister Zhang Ping, guests were treated to a generous and sumptuous buffet of various appetizers.

The second day of the seminar began with a lecture on “Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in China and WTO Action by the US” by co-presenters Susan Anthony and Tim Browning, Attorney Advisers to the Office of Intellectual Property Policy and Enforcement of the US Patent and Trademark Office. Kelly Sims Gallagher, PhD, the Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs Energy Technology Innovation Project spoke on “Reconciling Coal with Environmental Protection in China,” trying to forestall global climate disaster. Weiping Wu, Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Planning & International Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University presented a picture of the current state of China’s migrants from farm to urban poverty and how the old “Hukou” system that registers a person’s economic category at his birth location works to impose lifelong restrictions on social services according to those available to that location despite forced or voluntary migration.

The afternoon brought a concise but thorough briefing at the State Department covering the recent history of the US-China relationship and its implications in each country’s dealings with the rest of the world. The afternoon ended at the National Archives with a video lecture “Chinese Immigration during the Chinese Exclusion Period,” an explanation of the use of the Archives’ holdings and the opportunity to view the actual founding documents of the United States. The bus ride back to the hotel saw us depart in many directions while still together in the shared knowledge of this valuable event.

Sanborn 2
Two national presidents: Bob Sanborn of USCPFA and Lolan Wang Merklinger of Federation of Canada-China Friendship Associations. Everyone closeted in a State Department briefing room, becoming Washington “insiders.”
2 2
Dr. Robert Sutter of Georgetown University set the tone for an informative and intellectually stimulating set of lectures. Kitty and Bart Trescott and Rosemary Severance of the MW Region mingling in the luxuriant setting of the Chinese Embassy.

Copyright USCPFA