Only Nicholas Can Go to China

December 2, 2016

It’s no longer true that only Nixon can go to China—Nicholas Winter toured the country at the request of the U.S. State Department to tell the story of the 2016 Presidential Election as part of their Public Affairs Programming. That phrase refers to Richard Nixon as the first U.S. president to go to the Republic of China in almost 100 years. Nixon’s reputation as a staunch anti-Communist meant he could visit without being perceived as soft on Communism by his critics. Professor Winter did not need that armor—he went there to freely answer the many Trump and Clinton questions from Chinese students and faculty, diplomats, and embassy staff. He hit five cities in two weeks.

His first stop, Beijing, included three schools and the U.S. Embassy (see his adventure map to the side). Beijing is viewed as the center of the universe in China, a place where much of the important political and creative work of the country is being done. He spoke at the World Economics and Politics—Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, School of Government—Peking University, Renming University, and the U.S. Embassy in the Beijing America Center.

Peking University was his first time using a translator which added some additional administrative duty (reading his Powerpoint slides for example). Translation was consecutive, after each phrase, as opposed to simultaneous (visualize the earpieces in the delegates at the U.N.).

In Beijing the Embassy media team interviewed him for a short video on What Does Politics Mean to Me?, and for some other short insights on political topics. Sign up for our newsletter for notification when the videos are posted. Winter was interviewed by a mob of journalists after his talk (see sidebar for coverage).

Following Beijing he went to Chengdu, a small city of 14.3 million people, speaking twice at the U.S. Consulate General, first co-hosting a movie night (By the People) followed with a second night watching the third presidential debate. In Chendu he also conducted a discussion group  at the Jiansu Tea House, and spoke at Yanjiyou Bookstore in the Raffles Center. He was reminded that despite the prevalence of capitalism, which we equate with democracy, the country is still governed by an authoritarian regime—an armed soldier followed him into a convenience store and requested he delete photos he had taken of a white building with a red star on top.

On to Nanjing (pop. 8.2 million) he spoke at the School of Foreign Languages—Southeast University, twice at the School of Government—Nanjing University, and at the Johns-Hopkins Center. The Johns Hopskins Center is a co-venture with Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies to support internationalization in higher education.

In Shenyang (pop. 6.3 million), provincial capital and largest city of Liaoning Province he spoke at the Lazy Bee Café, an English-Corner gathering and informal discussion, a dinner talk with American Consulate Staff, to students and faculty at Liaoning Academy of Social Science (LASS) and Northeast University, and the U.S. Consulate General.

He concluded with Changchun (pop. 7.6 million), the capital and largest city of Jilin Province, located in the northeast of China, with a lunch discussion with Chinese Fulbright Alumni, and at the School of Humanities and Arts—Northeast Normal University.



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Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences