China relations with US: Now more than ever

Updated: 2015-10-14 11:52

By Amy He in New York(China Daily USA)

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Stephen Orlins supports role played by overseas students

Stephen Orlins believes that the hundreds of thousands of Chinese students in the US have a huge impact on the US-China relationship, even if it's too early to tell what kind of policy they may drive.

These students - more than 275,000 of them not counting the students who are here studying in American high schools - influence Americans who don't know much about China and Chinese who don't know much about the US, said Orlins, president of the National Committee on US-China Relations.

Some students stay in the US after graduating, and some go back to China, but both groups are going leave an impact on the two societies, Orlins said.

"They're going to overwhelmingly have a positive influence on the relationship. It's grown 20 percent a year over this last decade. It was not material 10, 15 years ago, and now it's very material," he said, which makes it fitting that the National Committee is honoring Stephen Schwarzman at its annual gala on Wednesday for his business ties to China as well as his philanthropic ties in starting the Schwarzman Scholars program.

Modeled after the Rhodes Scholarships program and housed at Tsinghua University in Beijing, the Schwarzman Scholars program awards the best students in the world with a year of study for a master's degree at the Chinese university. Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of financial firm Blackstone Group, contributed a $100 million personal gift to the program and raised another $300 million.

Orlins said that the Schwarzman Scholars program will hopefully better establish US-China ties just like the Rhodes Scholarships did for US-UK ties.

"He like me grew up in the era when the smartest people graduating from universities in the United States thought about becoming Rhodes Scholars and going off to England. And that globalized these kids because they were basically graduating from college and it made them very familiar with the UK because they went to Oxford, and it strengthened both their global citizenship and the US-UK relationship," he said.

China relations with US: Now more than ever

"That Schwarzman is going to do this at Tsinghua is just extraordinary, so that the next generation of scholars, the top students throughout America and the world will decide to go to Tsinghua to study so that 25 years from now, like Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar, we'll have a Schwarzman Scholar who becomes president of the United States," he added.

Having governors, mayors, CEOs, and other people in leadership positions who have studied and lived in China will have great impact on policy, he said.

The National Committee, founded in 1966, will also be honoring Ian Read, CEO and chairman of Pfizer, for the work that the pharmaceutical company is doing in China. Pfizer has been in China for more than 25 years and is the largest multinational pharmaceutical company in the country.

"As China has developed, it has this focus on healthcare and what Pfizer does is able to provide drugs and research that really positively affect people's lives. It does R&D in China and it's a remarkable corporate citizen that they really does an enormous amount in philanthropy. It's an honor for us to have the chairman as an honoree," he said.

Orlins, who has been president at the National Committee since 2005 and was previously a lawyer and banker, said he is optimistic about the relationship between the two countries. As one of the first Americans to visit China after the two countries re-established diplomatic relations, Orlins has been watching the relationship grow for decades, and said he expects the relationship to continue progressing.

(China Daily USA 10/14/2015 page1)