Wednesday May 27, 2020

August 22-September 1, 2016
Beijing, Shenyang, Dandong, Harbin

Participants at the Ministry of Defense in Beijing

Participants at the Ministry of Defense in Beijing

From August 22-September 1, the U.S.-China Policy Foundation led another congressional staff delegation to China. This year’s delegation traveled to Beijing, Shenyang, Dandong, and Harbin and was comprised of 11 congressional Chiefs of Staff, Legislative Directors, and senior staff. The participants are from offices of both Republicans and Democrats, serving states and districts all across the United States. Six of the participants work for Senators and five work for U.S. Representatives.

In Beijing, the delegation met with the U.S. Embassy, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the American Chamber of Commerce, and China’s Central Military Commission’s Office of International Military Cooperation. These meetings provided participants with both American and Chinese perspectives on key areas of interest regarding the U.S.-China relations, including trade, areas for potential cooperation, areas of tension, and military-to-military relations. The meetings provided a strong background that set the informational framework for the rest of the trip.

The delegation then traveled to Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning Province and the largest city in Northeast China, which is considered China’s “rust belt” and has been experiencing an economic slowdown similar to the one experienced by the manufacturing states in the U.S. Meetings with the Consul-General and U.S. Consulate officials and with the Liaoning Provincial People’s Congress helped the delegation better understand the concerns and challenges faced by this region, as well as the foreign policy and geopolitical issues related to the province’s proximity to North Korea.

The group then took a bus to nearby Dandong. Dandong is a city in Liaoning province on the Yalu River. It is the largest border city with North Korea in China. Dandong does a significant amount of trade with North Korea and, as a result, there are numerous Korean restaurants, businesses, and areas in the city. Reminders of the Korean War are very visible, with the most notable symbol being the Yalu River Broken Bridge  bombed by the U.S. during the war. While in Dandong, the delegation also met with a local business.

In Harbin, the delegation go to experience a different type of city, one shaped by Russian influence and trade. Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang province in Northeast China. The city was founded as the endpoint for the Chinese Eastern Railway in 1898. This Russian financed railway formed an extension of the Trans-Siberian Railway and brought Russian immigrants and culture to the region, including many Jewish refugees. Today, Harbin has the largest economy in its province and is home to several economic and technological development zones. The delegation visited the GE Innovation Center, met with the Heilongjiang Provincial Development and Reform Commission, had conversations with local families, and met with provincial officials.

The USCPF led congressional staff delegations are an important form of people-to-people exchange between the U.S. and China. We hope the participants return to their offices in DC with a better understanding of the U.S.-China relationship. We would also like to thank the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) for their assistance with this trip.

Policymaker Participants

Claire Burghoff, Communications Director
Representative Steve Womack (R-AR)

Jake Cornett, Senior Advisor
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)

Andy Flick, Deputy Chief of Staff
Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA)

Nick Myers, Senior Counsel
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Todd Poole, Chief of Staff
Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC)

Cole Rojewski, Chief of Staff
Representative David G. Valadao (R-CA)

Tricia Russell, Chief of Staff
Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) 

John Sandy, Chief of Staff
Senator Jim Risch (R-ID)

Jay Sulzmann, Legislative Director
 Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

Curtis Swager, Legislative Director
Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO)

PJ Waldrop, Legislative Director
Senator David Perdue (R-GA)