Five former U.S. ambassadors to China appear together in a program for the first time at the National Committee event Once Upon a Time in Beijing, held in New York on December 9, 2008. The program, which was broadcast on the C-SPAN network, featured ambassadors Winston Lord (1985-89), James Lilley (1989-91), J. Stapleton Roy (1991-95), James R. Sasser (1996-99), and Joseph Prueher (1999-2001).
In an exchange moderated by National Committee president Stephen Orlins, the ambassadors candidly reflected on the challenges, excitement, crises and achievements of their tenures, and shared insights on the future of U.S.-China relations.
The National Committee is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization that encourages understanding of China and the United States among citizens of both countries. The National Committee's continuity of experience and depth of associations with senior officials and distinguished citizens of China and the United States make it a unique national resource. The National Committee focuses its exchange, educational, and policy programs on international relations, economic development and management, governance and legal affairs, environmental and other global concerns, mass communication, and education administration -- addressing these issues with respect to the People's Republic, Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan.
Ambassador James Lilley
James Lilley was born in Qingdao, China in 1928, where his father was working for Standard Oil. He remained in China until 1940, having lived in Qingdao, Tianjin, Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province, and Shanghai. He served in the U.S. Army as well as in the Merchant Marines from 1945 to 1947. After graduating from Yale University with a BA in 1951, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He went on to receive his MA from George Washington University and became a graduate of the National War College in 1972.
Ambassador Lilley was in the CIA until 1975, serving in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand and Beijing and as the national intelligence officer for China (1975-78). He then changed careers to work for Hunt Oil (1978-80) and United Technologies (1979-80). He served on the National Security Council's East Asia staff (1981-82) before becoming the director of the American Institute in Taiwan (1982-84). He worked for Otis Elevator (1984-85) and then became the deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia (1985-86).
He was the U. S. ambassador to Korea (1986-89) and to China (1989-91), and assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs (1991-93). From 1993 to 2006, he worked at the American Enterprise Institute, where he edited six books on the Chinese military. In 2004 he wrote China Hands, a reflection on his life and career that was published in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
Ambassador Lilley passed away on November 12, 2009.
Ambassador Winston Lord
As special assistant to the National Security Advisor, Winston Lord accompanied Henry Kissinger on his secret visit to China in 1971 and President Nixon on his historic opening in 1972, as well as subsequent trips by President Ford and Dr. Kissinger. From 1985 to 1989 he served as ambassador to Beijing under Presidents Regan and Bush. From 1993-1997 he was Assistant Secretary of State in charge of all East Asian policy, including China, under President Clinton. Lord's other key government assignments were in the State Department as the director of Policy Planning (1973-1977) and in the Defense and State Departments in the 1960s.
In between governmental posts Ambassador Lord has headed and helped direct a variety of private organizations related to international affairs. He was president of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1977 to 1985, as well as chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy and chairman of the Carnegie Endowment National Commission on America and the New World in the early 1990s. He currently serves as Chairman Emeritus of the International Rescue Committee, the largest non-sectarian organization that both helps refugees abroad and resettles them in the United States.
Ambassador Lord earned a B.A. from Yale (Magna Cum Laude) and an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (first in the class).
Stephen A. Orlins
President of the National Committee on United States-China Relations since 2005, Mr. Orlins was managing director of Carlyle Asia and chairman of Taiwan Broadband Communications.
Prior to joining Carlyle, Mr. Orlins was senior advisor to AEA Investors, Inc. and a managing director of Lehman Brothers and president of Lehman Brothers Asia (1983-1991). From 1976 to 1979, Mr. Orlins was an attorney-advisor in the office of the Legal Advisor of the U.S. Department of State, where he was a member of the legal team that established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. Mr. Orlins is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
Admiral Joseph Prueher
Joseph Prueher is a consulting professor at Stanford University's Institute of International Studies and senior advisor on The Preventive Defense Project. He served as ambassador to the People's Republic of China from 1999 to 2001 after completing thirty-five years in the United States navy. His last command was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC), the largest military command in the world spanning over half the earth's surface and including over 300,000 people.
From 1989 through 1995, Admiral Prueher served as commandant at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis; commander of Carrier Battle Group ONE based in San Diego; commander of the U.S. Mediterranean Sixth Fleet and of NATO Striking Forces based in Italy; and vice chief of Naval Operations in the Pentagon. Primarily a carrier based attack pilot for his first 24 years of service, he also spent three years as a Navy test pilot and has extensive flight and combat experience, with over 5600 flight hours and over 1000 carrier landings. He was qualified in 52 types of aircraft and held numerous senior tactical commands.
From Nashville, TN, Admiral Prueher graduated with distinction in 1964 from the U.S. Naval Academy, later receiving an M.S. in International Relations from George Washington University. He is also a graduate of the Naval War College.
J. Stapleton Roy
J. Stapleton Roy is a senior United States diplomat specializing in Asian affairs. A fluent Chinese speaker, Roy spent much of his career in East Asia, where his assignments included Bangkok, Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, Singapore, and Jakarta. He also specialized in Soviet affairs and served in Moscow at the height of the Cold War. Ambassador Roy served as Assistant Secretary of State for intelligence and research from 1999 to 2000.
Ambassador Roy was born in Nanjing, China of American missionary parents. He attended Mount Hermon School (now Northfield Mount Hermon), and in 1956, graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, where he majored in history and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Roy rose to become a three-time ambassador, serving as the top U.S. envoy in Singapore (1984-86), the People's Republic of China (1991-95), and Indonesia (1996-99). In 1996, he was promoted to the rank of career ambassador, the highest rank in the United States Foreign Service.
Roy is currently a managing director of Kissinger Associates, Inc., Chairman of the Council for the Johns Hopkins-Nanjing Center, and a director of ConocoPhillips and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.
Senator James R. Sasser
James Sasser was born in Memphis Tennessee and educated at Vanderbilt University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree (1958) and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Vanderbilt Law School (1961).
He practiced law in Nashville until elected to the United States Senate in 1976, where he served for 18 years. During that time he was chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, as well as various subcommittees of the Appropriations, Banking, and Governmental Affairs committees. Upon leaving the Senate he became a fellow at the Kennedy School at Harvard University which ended with his appointment as ambassador to the People's Republic of China in 1996. He served in that capacity for almost four years, playing a pivotal role in stabilizing Sino-American relations and traveling with President Jiang Zemin on his historic State visit to the United States in 1997.
Senator Sasser is currently a senior advisor to the FedEx Corporation and a senior counselor to APCO Worldwide in Washington, DC. He has served as a consultant to other U.S. corporation doing business in China, including the Ford Motor Company, the former Unocal Corporation and Brown-Forman Corporation.