On June 7, Yenching Scholar Hannah Mullen participated in the Plenary Session of the 7th Annual U.S. - China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange. The U.S. – China Strategic and Economic Dialogues are the highest level of diplomatic discussions between the two nations. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and China’s Vice Premier Liu Yandong hosted the talks on behalf of their respective governments. “Supporting Yenching Academy’s Master of China Studies Program Through International Students Studying In China to Act As A Bridge Between the World and China” was listed as one of the accomplishments of this talk.
As a student representative of Yenching Academy, Mullen delivered a bilingual speech about the power of U.S.-China student exchanges to build trust and communication between the American and Chinese people. Mullen stated that: “Through better exchange, students can understand each other and bring this mutual appreciation back to their own countries and build lasting friendships.” In his own remarks, Secretary Kerry was highly complimentary of Hannah, noting that her spoken Mandarin was “impeccable” and referencing her remarks two additional times.
When reflecting on her opportunity to address the Plenary Session, Hannah says she felt “incredibly lucky to have been able to witness high level diplomacy in action. The discussions between Secretary Kerry and Vice Premier Liu show the dedication that the U.S. and Chinese governments have to cooperation and friendship, and I’m so grateful to have been able to participate in the dialogue.”
Below is Hannah Mullen's Speech:
This year, at the Yenching Academy of Peking University, my most memorable, profound, and surprising intellectual experiences have come not only from the classroom, but also from conversations with my Chinese classmates. In October, several Chinese classmates and I hiked 华山, one of the Five Great Mountains of China. As we walked, we spoke about nationality, ethnicity, philosophy, identity, travel, food, and family – the things that define a society and make life worth living.
When we reached the mountain’s peak, we gazed down in wonder at the landscape thousands of feet below us. We felt bound together by pride in our achievement, not divided by our differences. That day, we stopped only being classmates and became close friends.
Honest conversation and shared experience form the basis of cross-cultural understanding. Thus, it is not surprising that in 2009, President Obama announced the “100,000 Strong Initiative”, whose goal is to encourage more young American students to study in China, and why both the United States and China are working together to expand the program and now call it the “Million Strong Initiative.”
My experiences over the past nine months have shown me that friendship and cooperation between China and the United States will never fully blossom until our people embrace each other as partners rather than rivals. To weather future storms, to ease future tensions, and to harness future potential, we must work to foster trust and cooperation between our students – because it is they who will shape the future relationship between the United States and China and, in turn, the future of global peace and prosperity. Thank you.
The China-U.S. High-level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange was established in May 2010 based on an agreement between President Obama and Chairman Hu during a meeting in Beijing in November 2009. The first Plenary Session was attended by State Council Member Liu Yandong and Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The two parties signed a memo aimed at promoting exchange between the two countries.
Since July 2014, this conference has been hosted with two other conferences focused on strategic dialogues and economic dialogues. Along with political mutual-understanding and economic cooperation, people-to-people exchange has emerged as the three major pillars of U.S.-China relations. The conference has established an effective platform for greater cooperation between the United States and China.