The Week that Changed the World: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of President Nixon’s Trip to China


Wednesday, February 23, 2022


6:00 PM


8:00 PM
Play Video


Please join the SAIS China Global Research Center as we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of President Nixon’s historic trip to China.

The SAIS China Global Research Center is honored to be hosting Ambassador Chas Freeman, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy, Former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, China, and Indonesia, and Former Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, and Ambassador Winston Lord, Former U.S. Ambassador to China, and Former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. 

This event will be co-moderated by Susan Thornton, Senior Fellow at the Paul Tsai China Center, Yale Law School and Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Prof. Andrew Mertha, the George and Sadie Hyman Professor of China Studies, and the Inaugural Director of the SAIS China Global Research Center. SAIS Hopkins Dean Jim Steinberg will introduce the panelists.

Event Guests

Ambassador Susan Thorton

Susan A. Thornton is currently a Senior Fellow and Research Scholar at the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale University Law School; Director of the Forum on Asia-Pacific Security at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy; and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. 

She was a senior U.S. diplomat with almost 30 years of experience with the U.S. State Department in Eurasia and East Asia, having worked on U.S. policy toward China, Korea, and the former Soviet Union and served in leadership positions at U.S. embassies in Central Asia, Russia, the Caucasus, and China. Previous Foreign Service assignments include Deputy Chief of Mission to the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan., Deputy Director of the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs at the State Department in Washington, Economic Unit Chief in the Office of Korean Affairs, and overseas postings in Beijing, Chengdu, Yerevan and Almaty. Until July 2018, Thornton was acting as assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State and led East Asia policymaking amid crises with North Korea, escalating trade tensions with China, and a fast-changing international environment. 

She received her master’s in international relations from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and her bachelor’s from Bowdoin College in economics and Russian. She serves on several non-profit boards and speaks Mandarin and Russian.

Ambassador Winston Lord

Ambassador Winston Lord was former U.S. Ambassador to China from 1985 to 1989 and was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in 1993. He is the author of Kissinger on Kissinger: Reflections on Diplomacy, Grand Strategy, and Leadership (St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2019).

Before assuming his duties, Ambassador Lord had been Chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy, Vice-Chairman of the International Rescue Committee, and Chairman of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s National Commission on America and the New World. Ambassador Lord was a Foreign Service Officer from 1961-67 and was assigned in Washington to the Congressional relations, political-military, and economic affairs staff, and abroad in Geneva. He also served in the U.S. Government outside the Department of State on the Policy Planning Staff in International Security Affairs at the Defense Department (1967-69), on the National Security Council staff (1969-70), and as a Special Assistant to the National Security Advisor (1970-73). From 1973 to 1977, he was Director of the Policy Planning Staff. From 1977 to 1985, Ambassador Lord was President of the Council on Foreign Relations. He also has been a member of the Asia Society, the American Academy of Diplomacy, the America-China Society, and the Aspen Institute of Distinguished Fellows. Among the awards Ambassador Lord has received are the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award and the Defense Department’s Outstanding Performance Award. 

After graduating magna cum laude from Yale University in 1959, Ambassador Lord obtained an M.A. at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University in 1960. He has received Honorary Doctorate degrees from Williams College, Tufts University, Dominican College, and Bryant College.

Ambassador Chas Freeman

Ambassador Chas Freeman is a visiting scholar at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs and Chairman of Projects International, Inc. He is the author of several well-received books on statecraft and diplomacy, including America’s Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East (Just World Books, 2016), and was the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on “diplomacy.”

He held influential government positions during pivotal historical moments throughout history, including acting as former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs from 1993-1994; serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia during operations desert shield and desert storm; acting as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the historic U.S. mediation of Namibian independence from South Africa and Cuban troop withdrawal from Angola. He was former Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires in Bangkok (1984-1986) and Beijing (1981-1984). He was also Director for Chinese Affairs at the U.S. Department of State from 1979-1981. After his retirement from government, he served concurrently as co-chair of the United States China Policy Foundation, president of the Middle East Policy Council, and vice chair of the Atlantic Council of the United States.

Ambassador Freeman earned a certificate in Latin American studies from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, certificates in both the national and Taiwan dialects of Chinese from the former Foreign Service Institute field school in Taiwan, B.A. magna cum laude from Yale University, and a J.D. from the Harvard Law School.