Looking back over 30 years.

The United States and China have a long history of cultural, diplomatic, and economic exchange. From the 1784 maiden voyage of the American merchant vessel "China Queen" to China's shores, to the wave of Chinese immigration to the United States in the 1850s; from Cold War tensions to ping-pong diplomacy; this complicated relationship has endured. Despite these nations' differences, China and the United States found a way to reopen the door to friendship and cooperation on December 16, 1978, allowing the first of many scholastic exchanges to begin in 1979.

This digital archive is a collection of personal stories from leading experts on China and the United States — many of whom were members of the first cohort of students to visit China in 1979 — who wish to share their experiences with others. Through oral histories, and other sources of archival evidence, we hope to show a "behind the scenes" view of what has strengthened this relationship, what challenges have been faced, and how we can build on this knowledge in the future.

We encourage you to contribute your own story and become part of an enduring bilingual web library that will enlighten readers in the U.S. and China for generations to come.

Browse exhibit items » | Contribute your story, photo, or video »

Friendship Photo Exhibit