Deep Dive on China, Session 1: China’s Foreign Policy

China’s Foreign Policy

The U.S. and China share very different historical backgrounds in terms of challenges, growth, and philosophy, including very different geographical perspectives that have played a large part in each country’s trajectory. How do these historical perspectives impact the U.S. and China’s current foreign policies when engaging in international topics like the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the continuing COVID-19 crisis? This April, the USHCA will partner with the World Affairs Council of St. Louis to explore how these issues impact current foreign policy and contemporary issues between the U.S. and China.

This event will feature special panelists Governor Bob Holden, Chairman & CEO of the U.S. Heartland China Association, USHCA Strategic Advisor Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, former Ambassador to Cambodia, and Board Member Ms. Susan Thornton a retired senior U.S. diplomat with almost three decades of experience with the U.S. State Department in Eurasia and East Asia. She is currently a Senior Fellow and Visiting Lecturer in Law at the Yale Law School Paul Tsai China Center

Watch the Replay Here


Dennis Pruitt

VP, Business Development at the Missouri Partnership

Dennis Pruitt

International business development practitioner with extensive experience in corporate relations, public policy, government affairs and international relations. Project management experience involving site selection, corporate decision making, financial incentives, state and community regulatory process for the location of manufacturing plants, warehouses, offices. Chairman or executive member of numerous city, state, and national committees involved with international relations and economic development. Certified economic developer with 22 years of experience as a director and vice president with state and local economic development organizations. Lived in France, Malaysia and Thailand. Fluent in French and English.

Mr. Pruitt’s Bio


Governor Bob Holden

Chairman and CEO of USHCA

Bob Holden

Bob Holden served as Missouri’s 53rd Governor, 2001-2005. Prior to being elected Governor, Holden served two terms as Missouri State Treasurer and three terms as a Missouri State Representative.

Bob Holden has been in public service his entire adult life. In addition to holding elective office, Holden worked for State Treasurers James I. Spainhower and Mel Carnahan, United States Senator Thomas F. Eagleton, and Congressman Richard A. Gephardt.

During Governor Holden’s term in office, he chaired the Midwest Governors Association; opened Missouri’s first trade office in China; created Missouri’s first Hispanic Outreach Committee; moved Missouri from 41st to 5th in terms of women in leadership positions; appointed over 200 African Americans to prominent leadership roles; established the state’s first Youth Cabinet; and built the first LEED certified state office building in Missouri.

Bob Holden is currently the Missouri Co-Chair for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, and is an Executive Board member of the Missouri State NAACP Chapter. After leaving office in 2005, Holden founded the Holden Public Policy Forum and was a professor at Webster University for ten years. While at Webster University, he helped bring the first Confucius Institute to Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri.

For over 40 years, Bob Holden has been an active participant in the American Legion Missouri Boys and Girls State Program. He led efforts to bring the first delegations of Chinese students to be participants in this historic program. Since that first delegation to Missouri Boys and Girls State, he has lead the efforts to continue these student delegations of Chinese students to Missouri and Missouri students to China with plans to initiate delegations from other states.

Bob Holden believes that long term economic success for the United States and China must be built on mutual respect, clear understandings and honest dialogue. This can be achieved by expanding our cultural ties, creating more educational partnerships, and creating bridges of opportunities for successful business in both countries.

Gov. Holden was recently inducted to the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame. Watch his honoree video here.

Gov. Holden’s Bio


Susan Thornton

Senior Fellow and Research Scholar, Yale University Law School, Paul Tsai China Center

Susan Thornton

Susan A. Thornton is a retired senior U.S. diplomat with almost three decades of experience with the U.S. State Department in Eurasia and East Asia. She is currently a Senior Fellow and Visiting Lecturer in Law at the Yale Law School Paul Tsai China Center. She is also the director of the Forum on Asia-Pacific Security at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Until July 2018, Thornton was Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State and led East Asia policymaking amid crises with North Korea, escalating trade tensions with China, and a fast-changing international environment. In previous State Department roles, she worked on U.S. policy toward China, Korea and the former Soviet Union and served in leadership positions at U.S. embassies in Central Asia, Russia, the Caucasus and China.

Thornton received her M.A. in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and her B.A. from Bowdoin College in Economics and Russian. She serves on several nonprofit boards and speaks Mandarin and Russian.

Ms. Thornton’s Bio


Amb. Kenneth Quinn

President Emeritus at The World Food Prize Foundation

Amb. Quinn

Dr. Kenneth M. Quinn, former U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia, assumed the leadership of the World Food Prize Foundation on January 1, 2000, following his retirement from the State Department after a 32 year career in the Foreign Service.

Inspired by the vision of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, the founder of the World Food Prize, Ambassador Quinn has endeavored to build this annual $250,000 award into “the Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture.” Held each October in Des Moines on or around World Food Day (October 16), the World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony, “Borlaug Dialogue” international symposium and Global Youth Institute have grown in size and stature under his direction.

With the support of the John Ruan family, Dr. Quinn has led the campaign which successfully raised over $30 million to restore the historic Des Moines Public Library and transform it into the World Food Prize Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Hall of Laureates. He provided the personal leadership to have the building designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, the highest possible level of energy efficiency and resource conservation.

During his diplomatic career, Ken Quinn served: as a Rural Development advisor in the Mekong Delta; on the National Security Council staff at the White House; as Narcotics Counselor at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Vienna; for four years as Chairman of the U.S. Inter-agency Task Force on POW/MIAs; and as Director of Iowa SHARES, the humanitarian campaign that sent Iowa doctors, nurses, medical supplies and food to starving Cambodian refugees.

A fluent speaker of Vietnamese, Dr. Quinn acted as interpreter for President Gerald Ford at the White House and personally negotiated the first ever entry by U.S. personnel into a Vietnamese prison to search for U.S. POW/MIAs. He was also a member of the first U.S. team to gain entry to a former Soviet prison in Russia.

Ambassador Quinn, a graduate of Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, has a M.A. in Political Science from Marquette University and a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Maryland. He and his wife Le Son have three adult children.

Amb. Quinn’s Bio

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