USCET: A History

The Early Years

Jaime FlorCruzAfter two years of effort, Peking University, supported by Ambassador Chang Bloch and a Fulbright professor, established an all-university survey course on American Civilization, which continues to be one of the most popular classes on campus today. Ambassador Chang Bloch also served as a Visiting Professor at Fudan University, inaugurating USCET's election programs to offer students and faculty ringside seats at party conventions, presidential debates and campaigns.

Based on the success of those lectures, USCET and Fudan University's Center for American Studies launched China's first Congressional Studies program for a broader audience in 2001.

Early yearsJulia Chang Bloch, who served as US Ambassador to Nepal from 1989-93, planted the seeds for USCET while a Visiting Professor at Peking University in 1998-1999, presenting seminars on US-China Relations and American Domestic Politics and organizing an international conference on the Asian financial crisis.

Formed through the F.Y. Chang Foundation, USCET would come to develop programs centered on American Governance and American Studies but extending to broader issues related to the role of the media and the rule of law in US-China relations.





USCET selected its first Chinese graduate and undergraduate students to participate in The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) Summer Institutes at Georgetown University.

With the support over the years of the C.V. Starr, Shelby Cullom Davis, and Kathleen Davis Foundations, alumni of the USCET-TFAS Fellows program (22 as of 2009) have held internships, attended classes at Georgetown, and been briefed at the White House, Capitol Hill, and federal and multilateral agencies.

Program alumni have gone on to graduate study and careers in government, academia, and politics.

Chinese studentsUSCET's Congressional Practicum focused on the mid-term elections in 2002. Charlie Cook, a leading non-partisan authority on US politics and elections, offered comments on the campaign via a digital video interaction with an active Chinese audience.

Chinese participants in the Congressional Studies programs gain valuable insights into the US political system from prominent American lawmakers, journalists, election analysts, and China experts.




David Broder2004 witnessed a number of firsts for USCET. Fudan University hosted USCET's first American Studies Network Conference in Shanghai. Also, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Broder of the Washington Post, who has covered every presidential convention and campaign since 1960, became USCET's first Journalist in Residence, sharing his current and historic perspectives on the media's role in elections.

The Congressional Practicum also thrived in an election year, and USCET sponsored the first-ever Chinese delegation attendance at a live presidential debate at the University of Miami.

Central Party School eventIn 2005, USCET held its annual American Studies Conference, 'The United States in War and Peace', at Yunnan University. The Conference has become the most prominent annual meeting of American Studies experts in China.

USCET also launched the American Studies Associates program, sending experts to Chinese universities linked to the growing American Studies network. One associate helped Northeastern University professors in Changchun craft an inter-disciplinary course in American Society and Culture based on team teaching, an unusual technique in China.

Economic RoundtableUSCET also presented the first of a series of roundtables on economic topics to help reduce tensions surrounding US-China economic relations. The first event was held at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Separately, the Congressional Practicum took center stage as part of a Symposium on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of Fudan University's Center for American Studies. Two former U.S. Senators, Republican Larry Pressler and Democrat Harris Wofford, participated and offered perspectives on Congressional input into US-China relations.




FMI students in action.USCET's inaugural Financial Media Institute opened at Fudan University's School of Journalism. Directed by Terry Smith of PBS and Al Kamen of the Washington Post, the program brought together 22 journalism students from across China to complete an intensive certificate program.

2006 also saw USCET cooperating with the U.S. Department of Labor in delivering its first legislative training program with the Peoples Congresses of Shanghai and Chongqing on Mine Safety. The program, designed to help China develop and implement laws to prevent mine accidents and deaths, addressed a high priority area of Chinese policymaking.

William RaspberryUSCET's third Journalist in Residence, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Bill Raspberry, enthralled audiences at four Chinese universities, covering topics ranging from the US civil rights movement to journalism's impact on world opinion.

In another program, and as part of USCET's annual Congressional Practicum, experts from China's Institute for International Strategic Studies of the Central Party School exchanged analyses and vigorously debated critical and issues related to the US role in Cross-Straits relations.





Maurice GreenbergThe first Greenberg / Starr Scholarships, named in honor of Maurice "Hank" Greenberg and C.V. Starr, were awarded to 10 gifted students from some of China's poorest homes as they matriculated at Yunnan University in Fall 2007.

Greenberg / Starr Scholars are selected annually in concert with Yunnan University. Greenberg / Starr Scholars pledge to give back to their communities after completing their studies in fields such as law, drug enforcement, social welfare, journalism, education and archeology.


Central Party School eventUSCET held its first Symposium at the Chinese Central Party School in 2007, organizing a group of eight American speakers to participate in panel discussions on Congress and the Rise of China with top Chinese experts.

U.S. panelists at the 2007 Symposium were leading commentators of US executive and legislative branch priorities and politics. Panelists included researchers at leading think tanks, government officials, and academics.


Gwen IfillGwen Ifill, Moderator and Managing Editor of Washington Week and Vice Presidential Debate Host, was the first broadcaster to serve as the USCET Journalist in Residence (JIR) in 2007. Ifill engaged in animated discussions with audiences in Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

The year also saw USCET select its first Media Fellow, a member of the faculty at Fudan University who completed a semester as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism. This program allows journalism school faculty the opportunity to gain US media experience and conduct research on topics of interest during their time in the US.



David BroderUSCET's Summer Institute for the Study of the US for Chinese University faculty was launched at Beijing Foreign Studies University with a pre-Institute workshop.

A group of 12 professors, representing 10 Chinese universities, then spent three weeks in Washington, D.C., taking classes and conducting research in their fields at George Washington University, before traveling the country for an additional week. Participants returned to China with a deeper understanding of the United States, its culture, and its institutions, and were better able to develop their universities' American Studies programs.

Frank FahrenkopfUSCET partnered with the China Institutes for Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), Tsinghua University, the Shanghai Institute for International Studies (SIIS), and Shanghai Jiaotung University for the third round of its Presidential Election Programs.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. offered an insider's view on tactics, strategies and the role of political parties in winning the nomination and the White House.

Fahrenkopf's timely visit drew an overflow of crowds and offered a unique opportunity for interpretation of U.S. Presidential election results and discussion of the electoral process.



USCET held its "Double Decade Celebration", commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the F.Y. Chang Foundation and the 10th Anniversary of the formation of the US-China Education Trust, in January 2009.

The occasion honored then-U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry M. "Hank" Paulson for his contributions to US-China relations. 

U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao also joined Special Guest Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong and 160 guests in commemorating the occasion and honoring the memory of F.Y. Chang.

A group of leading Chinese legal scholars, including F.Y. Chang Scholars and invited guests, as well as prominent American legal scholars and practitioners came together in November 2008 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the F.Y. Chang Scholars program. The event was co-sponsored by Harvard Law School and the F.Y. Chang Foundation & the US-China Education Trust.

The Symposium's theme was, "Legal Education: Reshaping China and the World." The Symposium featured leading scholars, officials, and lawyers, and included panels on "The Chinese Legal Landscape: Achievements and Challenges" and "The Legal Framework for Conducting Business in China." U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the Annual F.Y. Chang Lecture and keynoted the symposium luncheon.