China Leadership Summit

by Carolina China Network
A portion of the 100 student delegates!
A portion of the 100 student delegates!

The Duke-UNC China Leadership Summit is an annual student-run conference organized by Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  We invite leading experts to speak on topics of importance to Sino-US relations and create a platform for students from across the United States and China to exchange perspectives on these issues, connect with speakers, and network with one another.

This year, the conference focused on the theme "U.S. and China Grand Strategy in the Asia Pacific, Africa, and Beyond."  When using the term "grand strategy", we are referring to the fundamental awareness and articulation of a state's foreign policy--what type of world it seeks to build and what resources it will use to operate in that world.  Due to its rapidly growing economic power, China has extended its reach across the globe: from the mineral mines of Africa, to the oilfields in the Middle East, to the agriculture fields in Latin America, to the manufacturing centers of East Asia.  China's deepening economic, diplomatic, and military engagement with countries in the Asia Pacific and Africa are of particular note in recent years.  At CLS 2015, we sought to explore how the US and China are using both hard and soft power to assert their influence in these nations.

To kick off, we hosted speaker Aaron Friedberg from Princeton University's Center for International Security Studies, followed by a Chinese yo-yo performance and music from a guzheng player.  The following day was packed quite full!  Delegates participated in seminars with the director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, the former Secretary-General of Hong Kong Federation of Students, a South Asia & Middle East Fellow at PoliTact, the Staff Director of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, a professor of African Studies, and a China-North Korea relations expert.  Next, students heard perspectives from the former ambassador to Ethiopia, the managing editor of online magazine ChinaFile, and finally, Dr. Deborah Brautigam, who is the leading expert on China-Africa relations.  The conference culminated with students competing in a case competition involving different foreign policy issues facing China.  

Our planning team is absolutely thrilled with the results of this year's conference, and we want to THANK YOU greatly for your support.  By giving to the Carolina China Network, you invested in the future leaders of US-China relations.  Some of these students are already back in China, working in internships and competing in language competitions.  Your support is reaping a great harvest!  If you are interested in donating in the future for next year's conference, we invite you to visit our China Leadership Summit project page.  If you would like to read more details about this year's conference, check out our website at

Thank you donors and friends for making this conference possible, and we look forward to connecting with you again soon!

Dr. Deborah Brautigam discusses China-Africa study
Dr. Deborah Brautigam discusses China-Africa study
Two students at the end of the conference!
Two students at the end of the conference!
Accomplished guzheng player
Accomplished guzheng player

Hello supporters!

We hope you enjoyed the holidays and that your new year is off to a great start! The one month countdown has begun. For the past several months, our student leadership team has been hard at work planning and designing this year's conference, which will be held over the weekend of February 20-22. For this years' conference, we were able to attract world-renowned speakers, thanks to our generous donors. The 2015 conference speakers have been finalized and the schedule is set, so please check out the website for more details:

The China Leadership Summit has been successfully bringing together top students from around the US and China who have the capacity to lead in the field of Sino-US relations. The purpose of the conference is to educate these students on pressing issues pertaining to Sino-US relations and to provide a platform for building connections among the students and speakers. Your past donations have allowed us to make significant advancements to the conference each year, and we are looking forward to hosting another amazing conference this year.

We also have a new Global Giving campaign specifically for the 2015 China Leadership Summit. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to help fund this years' conference, please visit the link: These funds are used for a range of purposes, including paying for speakers, managing our website and alumni databases, print materials, etc. Any amount is greatly appreciated!

Thank you again for your generosity and support.

- The CLS Leadership Team

Dear China Leadership Summit Supporters,

The 2014 Summit was a great success, attracting over 100 delegates from prestigious universities all around the world. While about 1/3 of our delegates were from Duke and UNC, other universities represented included Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Wuhan University, and many more. Our esteemed speakers for the 2014 conference included Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia in the Freeman Chair in China Studies, senior associate with the CSIS Pacific Forum, consultant for the U.S. government on East Asia, David Shambaugh, professor and Director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University, Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program and Centrer for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at The Brookings Institute, Angela Beibei Bao, lead China analyst at Rhodium Group (RHG), Isaac Stone Fish, associate editor at Foreign Policy Magazine in Washington, DC, and many more. Please check out our new website for more information: We are also proud of the recent citing of CLS in Forbes as a top collaborative inter-university project:

The 2015 conference will be held over the weekend of February 20-22, and the 2015 theme has been announced: The Role of China in the Global Order. We have been planning hard and looking forward to hosting another successful conference this year. We would love to hear feedback from our supporters, and please reach out to us at if you have any connections to universities, businesses, NGOs, speakers, or any other helpful connections that may be a good fit for our conference. Thank you so much for your continuous support!



The Duke-UNC China Leadership Summit Team

Hardworking CLS Leadership team reading apps!
Hardworking CLS Leadership team reading apps!

Hello supporters!

14 days, 1 hour, and 49 minutes remain until it. 100 student delegates hailing from 23 universities will descend upon North Carolina for it.  13 award-winning journalists, analysts, professors, and founders will speak at it.  

What is this it being referenced?

Duke and UNC's annual China Leadership Summit!

Our student leadership team has invested more than seven months into designing the conference and arranging each logistical detail.  In the process, we have played on each others' strengths and consumed enough dumplings to open a small restaurant.  You may ask what has been most challenging, and our unanimous reply is this: making delegate decisions.

Interest in China has been expanding given the country's unprecedented economic growth, and universities are offering incredible programs to meet the popular demand.  Duke-UNC China Leadership Summit has emerged as a notable US-China relations conference for students to attend in the Southeast, and this year we received 190 applications, our highest total to date.  Not only did the conference generate more applicants than ever before, but we also witnessed the competitive level of talent exhibited by students rise with each new application that we opened!  Tough hours of deliberation at last resulted in the applicant pool being wittled down by 47%.  We are thoroughly pleased with the high quality of the 2014 CLS delegates. 

And now, two weeks away, we are ready.

We advanced because of your generosity in donating to this conference, and we can't wait to report to you what comes out of the Duke-UNC China Leadership Summit in a few weeks!

Thank you so, so much.

The CLS Leadership Team

Delegates Simdi, Xiaoqian, and Emily from CLS 2013
Delegates Simdi, Xiaoqian, and Emily from CLS 2013
Speaker Marc Ross of US-China Business Council
Speaker Marc Ross of US-China Business Council


CLS 2014 Flyer
CLS 2014 Flyer

Dear China Leadership Summit supporters,

The Duke-UNC China Leadership Summit brings together top undergraduate students from across the U.S. to learn about and discuss pertinent issues to US-China relations.  Last year, we were proud to host the following people as our keynote speakers:

  • Thomas Fingar, Chairman of National Intelligence Council; 
  • Thomas Christensen, Director of the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program; and 
  • Yukon Huang, World Bank Country Director for China, as our keynote speakers.  

In addition, seventeen other experts joined us to lead panels and round robin discussions.  They came from everywhere, ranging from the US-China Business Council to the Environmental Defense Fund.

The planning has commenced for CLS 2014!  Two teams totaling 25 students, one at Duke University and the other at UNC-Chapel Hill, began meeting in September to discuss the goals and structure for the conference.  Already, it appears that this year's conference will rival all four of the last years, combined.  So many strong strides of progress have been made that we are eager to share with you and thank you for partnering with us to put on a powerful leadership summit for university students interested in US-China relations.

Here are some of the milestones!

  • Confirmed conference date and locations -- March 28-30, 2014, at Kenan-Flagler Business School of UNC-Chapel Hill as well as multiple buildings on the campus of Duke University.
  • In contact with an array of exciting speakers -- businessmen and women, ambassadors, professors, policy analysts, and a musician, to name a few!
  • Wrote and formalized the student delegate application, which is set to open on January 1 of the new year.  We are also expanding our international presence and welcoming outreach to more potential delegates from China.  At the same time, the selection process remains incredibly competitive as word about CLS continues to spread.
  • Formalizing relationships with businesses, NGOs, and think tanks of similar interests.  We would like to give companies access to recruit in the database of student scholars who would be incredible entry-level job candidates.
  • Hosting an interest meeting in the third week of January on our university campuses.

Finally, we come to our favorite three updates.  Just this month, we successfully solidified a partnership with the North Carolina China Business Association, a non-profit association of China-focused professionals and businesses.  They will be assisting us in relationships with corporations.  Next, we rolled out a brand-new website that explains our conference history in a clear fashion and gives potential delegates or sponsors the chance to become familiar with CLS.  Go check it out!  Finally and most importantly, the team has decided on the China Leadership Summit 2014 theme: The Chinese Dream: Local Realities and Global Implications.  This is something that Chinese President Xi Jinping has mentioned frequently in his many speeches, and so we are excited to unpack the term and delve into its underlying concepts.

As our team continues organizing 2014's China Leadership Summit, we would be thrilled to hear of connections to universities, businesses and corporations, NGOs, think tanks, and speakers who you imagine might be good fits.  If you would like to contact us with a thought, please send our team an email at!  Thank you so much for how you have supported the conference financially, and we are excited to keep you updated with the fruits of your donation.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, and happy holidays to you and your family,

The Duke-UNC China Leadership Summit Team


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Organization Information

Carolina China Network

Location: Chapel Hill, NC - USA
Carolina China Network
Project Leader:
Katrina Wertz
Cary, NC United States
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