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CHINA Town Hall comes to the Berkshires, Karen Christensen to speak

The National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR) is mentioned in the opening to today’s New York Times feature on Chinese president XI Jinping’s first state visit to the United States. The #NCUSCR has been at the center of US-China people-to-people exchanges since 1966, and is soon coming to Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Chinese president Xi Jinping starts his visit to the United States by giving a policy speech tonight at dinner in Seattle cohosted by the NCUSCR. On October 5, 2015, the NCUSCR’s annual program, CHINA Town Hall: Local Connections, National Reflections, will have a venue in the Berkshires for the first time.

Thanks to Simon’s Rock College, Great Barrington will be joining much larger communities and university campuses that have, since 2007, hosted CHINA Town Hall, a public outreach initiative of the National Committee on US-China Relations, an organization that is known for its role in “Ping Pong Diplomacy” in the 1970s. Today, its work ranges from environmental issues to human rights.

Last year, Jimmy Carter was the guest on the national CHINA Town Hall webcast, and this year there will be a panel that includes Robert Reich, secretary of the treasury under Bill Clinton. The national focus is foreign direct investment and you can read about it here. I’ve heard one of the speakers, Mayor Sheldon Day, tell the story of how Chinese investment has created jobs and changed the economic outlook of his small town in Alabama.

At every venue – numbering 70 last year – there is an on-site speaker, and for the first Great Barrington CHINA Town Hall I’ll take the stage, to talk about entrepreneurship and investment in rural America.

The aim of CHINA Town Hall is to audiences across the country gained a more nuanced understanding of the implications of China’s rise for U.S.-China relations and for their own communities. I’m sure we’ll have a great discussion in Great Barrington.

On a personal note, I’m also pleased that my son, Tom Christensen, happens to be home from China on vacation and will be here for the CHINA Town Hall. I plan to have him say a few words, because he is a Simons Rock graduate who now works at a major healthcare business in Beijing, and he has spent most of his adult life in China.

The evening is Monday, October 5th, and the program will begin with registration at 5.30pm. I’ll speak at 6.00pm, with time for discussion, and the national broadcast will start promptly at 7.00pm. Local participants can post questions at the link above for the national speakers.

“Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: Entrepreneurship and Investment in Rural America”

Karen Christensen will discuss the investment opportunities and economic development challenges that face rural communities such as the Berkshires, and explain how she has developed her company’s China expertise and business partnerships in China with Great Barrington as a base.

Ms. Christensen is CEO and founder of Berkshire Publishing Group, known for its China expertise and active business relationships in China. She is the author of several popular environmental books and numerous academic and professional publications.

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