Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. is the World Affairs Council’s 69th annual anniversary event keynoter

Pictured from left to right: Piram Prakasam, Jakob Lempp, Michael Van Denend, Erica Kubik

Given China’s intrinsic importance to the trajectory of the 21st century, the global economy, and indeed Michigan’s financial future, a conversation on U.S.-China relations with China’s top diplomatic representative to the United States could not be more timely.

His Excellency Cui Tiankai, Chinese Ambassador to the U.S., will be the featured speaker at the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan’s 69th anniversary event, to be held at 12 noon on Friday, February 8, at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel’s Ambassador Ballroom. He will address the West Michigan community in a conversation and Q&A session alongside Ambassador Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

The visit coincides with the 40th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the United States, which were established on January 1, 1979.

The visit is supported by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Foundation. President Ford made important contributions to the establishment of formal ties between the United States and China, traveling there in 1972 during his time as House Minority Leader and again as President in 1975. He also named future President George H. W. Bush to lead the American Liaison Office in Beijing.

Amway and Bank of America are lead co-sponsors for this event.

The event is ticketed and limited—inquiries on how to purchase tickets can be made at or by visiting; media members are welcome to cover the event.

Ambassador Cui Tiankai was appointed China’s ambassador to the United States in March 2013. He previously served as Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Ambassador Cui was born in October 1952 in Shanghai. He began studying foreign language and interpretation at East China Normal University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, and continued his study at Beijing Foreign Language Institute. He also earned a master’s degree in 1987 at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

In 1984, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) as an attaché, and held a series of successively higher positions at MFA’s Department of International Organizations and Conferences.

In 2007, he was appointed China’s Ambassador to Japan. In 2009, he was appointed Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, where he served until his current ambassadorship. Ambassador Cui is married and has one daughter.

Ambassador Nicholas Burns served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2005-2008 at the Department of State until his retirement in April 2008 after 27 years in the United States Foreign Service.

Ambassador Burns is currently the Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of Diplomacy and International Relations at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Senior Counselor at The Cohen Group, a strategic business advisory firm based in Washington, DC.

He is also Director of the Aspen Strategy Group; a member of the board of directors of Entegris, Inc.; and a board member of several non-profits, including the Council on Foreign Relations, Special Olympics, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Atlantic Council.

Ambassador Burns has a bachelor’s degree in history from Boston College, from which he graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1978. He also earned his master’s degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1980.