Plenary Sessions

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Thursday, May 8

4:45–8:30 PM

Opening Plenary I: Building U.S.–China Relations Through Language and Culture

Join colleagues and leaders from across the field of education for the inaugural event of the seventh annual National Chinese Language Conference. Enjoy a traditional Chinese dinner banquet and an evening of culture and music. Xu Lin, David Coleman, and Josette Sheeran will welcome participants and set forth the goals of the conference. Together they will discuss efforts by Hanban, the College Board, and the Asia Society to support Chinese language and culture programs worldwide. Kevin Rudd, former prime minister of Australia, will speak about the importance of U.S.–China relations and strategies for collaboration. The event will open with a collaborative performance by students from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and the Hangzhou School of the Arts, and will close with a special multimedia performance by Abigail Washburn, a Nashville-based clawhammer banjo player and singer-songwriter who has studied, lived, and performed in China for years.

Keynote: Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia and senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Speakers: David Coleman, President, The College Board; David Schaberg, Dean of Humanities, UCLA; Josette Sheeran, President and CEO, Asia Society; Xu Lin, Chief Executive, Confucius Institute Headquarters and Director-General of Hanban. Moderated by Clayton Dube, Executive Director, USC U.S.–China Institute

Performances by: Los Angeles County High School for the Arts students accompanied by the UCLA Music of China Ensemble; Abigail Washburn

Friday, May 9

8:45–9:45 AM

Plenary II: China and California: a Blueprint for Sino-American Partnership

From the 19th-century pioneers of Chinese immigrants in pursuit of the American dream, to the tens of thousands of Chinese students today on its campuses as part of their search for the Chinese dream, to the hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in California, the Golden State has always commanded extraordinary imagination and occupied a unique place in the United States’ connection with China. More than ever, California’s entrepreneurs and businesses, its schools and universities, and its government and institutions are amongst the pioneers in connecting residents of the state with their peers in China. In an era when China makes an unmistakably impactful entrance onto the world stage, and the U.S. looks to the Pacific as much as it has the Atlantic for stability and prosperity, the experience and energy in Sino-California relations can be all the more prescient and constructive for U.S–China relations in general. Join a panel of California’s leading policy, academic, and business leaders in a conversation about their roles in strengthening the fabric of partnership from coast to coast.

Speakers: Kwok-Yin (K.Y.) Cheng, Executive Vice President and Director for International Trade Banking, East West Bank; Del Christensen, Chief of Global Business Development, Bay Area Council; Maghan Keita, Chairman, Board of Trustees, The College Board; Qingyun Ma, Dean of USC School of Architecture; Peter Shiao, media entrepreneur and film producer. Moderator: David Pierson, journalist, The Los Angeles Times.

12:30–2:00 PM

Luncheon Plenary III: The Art of Bringing Chinese Literature to the World

There are now more Westerners learning Chinese than ever before, but learning a language is not the same thing as learning a culture, its history, or its contemporary perspectives. For a deep cultural understanding, we often turn to literature and the arts. Of course, for most Western readers, Chinese literature will only be read in translation, which means that the fate (at least in the short term) of Chinese literature as a world literature rests with the translators and publishers who determine the quality (rigor and beauty) and availability (publication, distribution, and marketing) of this work. In this public conversation, the leading translator of Chinese literature into English, Howard Goldblatt, and his wife and partner, Sylvia Li-chun Lin (a scholar of modern Chinese Literature and a translator), are joined by Jonathan Stalling (editor of Chinese Literature Today) to discuss the art of translation and the challenges of bringing Chinese literature to English readers. Mo Yan will join this conversation via video.

Speakers: Howard Goldblatt, author; Sylvia Li-chun Lin, writer and translator; Mo Yan, author (by video). Moderator: Jonathan Stalling, University of Oklahoma

Performances by: San Diego-Area Students

6:00–7:00 PM

Plenary IV: China on Screen: (Mis)perceptions, Large and Small

Join Jonathan Landreth, managing editor of, for a lively discussion on how filmed entertainment can be a tool for cross-cultural understanding with Kenneth Lin, cowriter of season two of House of Cards, Netflix’s political drama whose strong plot line about U.S.–China relations made it a hit online in China, and Janet Yang, a veteran movie producer of films in China and Hollywood whose recent international film, Shanghai Calling, a romantic comedy shot on location in Shanghai, played to great acclaim in both markets.. Other than North Americans, the Chinese watch more Hollywood movies than any people on Earth. In 2013, China became the number one export market for Hollywood movies screened in theaters, supplanting Japan. The Chinese box office grew 27 percent to $3.6 billion in gross ticket sales. And its growth potential remains strong, considering that China now has only half the number of movie screens the U.S. has to serve a population four times as large. As the Chinese movie market matures, moviemakers from Los Angeles are increasingly taking into account Chinese popular tastes and official restrictions. Chinese characters, locations, and plot lines are being added to Hollywood films, and elements that Chinese media officials deem inappropriate for the general public hit the editing room floor. As a result, now there often are two versions of the biggest movies in the world: one for China and one for everywhere else. And all this change is just on the big screen. In television and online, hundreds of millions of Chinese get their fill of America, breeding curiosity about life in the U.S. and more than a few misperceptions.

Speakers: Anthony Jackson, Vice President, Education and Leadership, Asia Society; Jonathan Landreth, ChinaFile Managing Editor, Asia Society; Kenneth Lin, screenwriter and playwright; Janet Yang, entertainment and media consultant and film producer.

Saturday, May 10

8:30–9:30 AM

Plenary V: The “People-to-People” Exchange Experience: Global Students, Global Skills

“People-to-People” exchanges between the United States and China are becoming an increasingly common element of student and educator development and academic enhancement. First Lady Michelle Obama’s recent visit to China highlighted the importance of US-Chinese educational exchange and collaboration. With increased opportunity and access to Chinese academic programs, students are making great strides in both linguistic and cultural education, often connecting language skills to other academic and professional areas. This panel will hear from individuals who have participated in a variety of immersive educational experiences in China. Panelists will speak about their experiences living in China and will explain how these experiences have propelled them academically, professionally and personally.

Speakers: John R. Thornton, Harvard University; Jessica Beinecke, Crazy Fresh Chinese; Philmon Haile, University of Washington; Zachary Marin, Arizona State University; James Montoya, Vice President for Higher Education and International, The College Board. Moderated by: Carola McGiffert, President, 100,000 Strong