Chinese Studies

China in 2016: Historical Perspectives from a Panel of Specialists

This roundtable brings back to campus two former Zeidman lecturers, historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom and journalist Mei Fong, for a lively exchange of ideas with two other China specialists. Inspired by the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution and the 40th anniversary of Mao’s death, the panel will make the case for the value—due to connections, continuities, contrasts, or a bit of each—in looking back from 2016 to earlier years ending with a six as they discuss the ways that China has and hasn’t changed. After hearing from Wasserstrom (on echoes of 1946) and Fong (on continuities and ruptures since 2006), as well as thoughts on other six-ending years from Congressional Research Service staffer Susan Lawrence and Richard McGregor of the Financial Times, the panel will take questions and comments from the audience in a free-flowing exchange of opinions. China analyst and Lower School parent Bill Bishop ’86 will moderate the panel.

The event will take place in the Robert L. Smith Meeting Room, Sidwell Friends School, on September 14 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

Mei Fong is the author of One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment, about the effects of China’s one-child policy. She is currently a fellow at the New America Foundation and has taught at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School. She was previously a China correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. Earlier this year, she delivered Sidwell’s 34th Annual John Fisher Zeidman ’79 Memorial Lecture.

Susan Lawrence , former U.S. New & World Report Beijing bureau chief and former senior China correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review, is a specialist in Asian affairs at the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service.

Richard McGregor is a reporter and former China bureau chief for the Financial Times. He has reported from North Asia for nearly two decades and worked for publications including the Australian, the International Herald Tribune, the BBC, and the Far Eastern Economic Review . He is the author of The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Chancellor’s Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine; the editor of the just-released Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China; and the author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know and, most recently, Eight Juxtapositions: China through Imperfect Analogies. He delivered the 29th Annual John Fisher Zeidman ’79 Memorial Lecture in 2011.

Chinese Studies Program

John Zeidman, a 1979 graduate of Sidwell Friends, forged a new perspective of the world and his life through the study of China. He began studying Chinese language in college, and during his junior year he traveled to Beijing to study abroad at Beijing Normal University. Sadly, not long after arriving in China, John grew ill and died.

After his death, John’s family and friends established the John Fisher Zeidman ’79 Chinese Studies Fund to perpetuate John’s belief that Chinese-American relations will thrive if students begin to study Chinese language, history, and culture at the secondary-school level. Endowed by this fund, the Chinese Studies Program was inaugurated at Sidwell Friends in 1983.

Since its beginning, the Program has grown significantly to include curricula in all divisions and multiple disciplines, long-term exchanges between Sidwell Friends and China, short-term travel to China and the rest of Asia, significant faculty professional development, community events, and outreach to area schools.

Contact Info

John Flower

Upper School Chinese Language Teacher
Xuan Wang

Upper School Chinese Language Teacher
Qihui Tang

Middle School 7/8 Chinese Language Teacher
Fei Xiong Reed

Middle School 5/6 Chinese Language Teacher
Yuan Zheng

Mailing List

To join the Chinese Studies Program mailing list to receive updates and event information, send an e-mail with your name, affiliation, and e-mail address to, with "mailing list" in the subject line.