The United States and China need to enhance people-to-people exchanges, as bilateral relations are facing new challenges, speakers of an online forum have said.
"Mutual understanding and trust serve as a cornerstone of this relationship," said Julia Chang Bloch, founder and president of the U.S.-China Education Trust (USCET), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, in remarks at the Forum on Tourism, Hospitality and Cultural Exchange.
"The benefits of educational exchanges to both countries are well known," said Bloch, former U.S. ambassador to Nepal, who is also the first Asian American to hold such a diplomatic position in the country's history.
Educational and people-to-people exchanges, she noted, are "an effective and powerful means to benefit two countries financially" while they can help "keep lines of communication open between the two countries, allowing both sides to sustain good will and avoid misunderstanding."
Jan Berris, vice president of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and also a witness to Ping-Pong Diplomacy between the two countries five decades ago, echoed Bloch's opinion.
"When ordinary Chinese and American people meet together and share their lives, it will cement the bilateral relations," said Berris.
Those interactions help people understand "we are all human beings," she said. "This is what you get from people-to-people diplomacy."
The two-day forum, co-hosted by the U.S.-Asia Institute and Las Vegas Sands Corp, was joined by about 500 attendees in person or via video link, including Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
In a keynote speech delivered virtually at the forum on Wednesday, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang said that tourism and cultural exchange between China and the United States are the foundation for mutual understanding and correct perception of the two peoples.
Qin said he hopes that the COVID-19 pandemic would be over soon, so that American friends could go to China for study, work and fun to get a true, multi-dimensional and panoramic view of China.
The American attendees of the forum spoke highly of the significance of tourism and cultural exchange in advancing U.S.-China relations, and the huge opportunities brought by China's reform and opening-up and rapid development to international investors.