Era of Change and Progress


Thanks for reading this first entry into our new blog, 'Harbor Connect,' a space where I will share my ideas and thoughts about the world, and what we're doing at the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF).

I'm James Chau, President of CUSEF, a non-profit founded by The Hon. Tung Chee-hwa, our Chairman Emeritus and First Chief Executive of Hong Kong. I've come to this role through a career in broadcast journalism, anchoring the news and interviewing world leaders from Jimmy Carter to Kofi Annan, and Christine Lagarde to Jane Goodall. I also serve as the World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Sustainable Development Goals and Health, having previously worked with communities impacted by HIV in my role as a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador.

Together, these experiences in the media and at the United Nations have given me a real insight into the value of communications as it applies to the U.S.-China relationship, including over the three years of a pandemic.

We've named this blog 'Harbor Connect' in tribute to Hong Kong, where CUSEF is based, and in recognition of its historic role through the centuries. Home to one of the world's largest and most iconic harbors, Hong Kong has served as a safe passage for trade, as a refuge for people who have found sanctuary here, and as a meeting point for diverse cultures and perspectives. More than seven million people live in Hong Kong today—but millions more globally have an emotional bond with our great city.

As I write this inaugural blog, I can't help but recall how, forty-five years ago, the world changed for good when the U.S. and China normalized relations. It triggered a new era of economic prosperity, brought forward the end date of the Cold War, and created important connections among 1.7 billion people. Yet almost a half century later, relations between the world's two largest economies have declined to a state that is fragile, uncertain, and troubling. This should be a time of celebration—instead, the trust and goodwill that characterized the events of January 1979 have been replaced by fear and suspicion.

Trust, connections, and understanding are the cornerstones of our work at CUSEF. Now in our 15th year, we continue to bring people together in divided times, including at our landmark annual meeting, which we organize jointly with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE).

On November 9-10, international figures who share our concern for the human condition will meet at the Hong Kong Forum on U.S.-China Relations. Uniquely, we will hear from China's Ambassador to the United States Xie Feng and United States Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns—and from two Nobel Peace Prize laureates: José Ramos-Horta, President of Timor-Leste, and Muhammad Yunus, who pioneered the concepts of microcredit and microfinance. This is the full agenda.

We will also be joined by Bi Jingquan, Executive Vice Chairman of CCIEE; Charlene Barshefsky, 12th United States Trade Representative; Zhu Min, former Deputy Managing Director of the IMF; Eddie Holmes, the first scientist to publish the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2; Max Baucus, 11th United States Ambassador to China; Shyam Saran, formerly India's Foreign Secretary and a recognized authority on climate change and nuclear affairs; and the American economist Stephen Roach.

The range and diversity of their opinions, and the ideas and solutions they contribute, will define the outcomes of this year's Hong Kong Forum—and, we hope, inject momentum into a relationship that, in the past few months, has signaled new activity. Thank you to everyone for joining us next week and for the many expressions of support we have received.

Please share this blog with your community. See you soon.

James Chau


China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF)