Managing China's power ascension on the global stage poses a challenge for both the Chinese and the international community. Since the military crackdown on antigovernment protestors in Beijing and other cities in 1989, relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China (PRC) have alternated from cooperative to competitive. The PRC leadership has repeatedly promised that China would not seek hegemony (ba quan), while it has concomitantly promoted the national goal of China becoming a great power. In the United States, the debate over how to deal with rising China has been between those who advocate engagement with the PRC portrayed as an important regional economic and political power and those who argue for some form of neo-containment with the PRC portrayed as a dangerous regional military power. Despite twenty years of diplomatic relations, misperceptions and misunderstandings exist on both sides of the Pacific.

The Stanley Foundation hopes to develop programs that will lead to the search for common ground with China while promoting mutual and equal dialogue, expanded contacts, and improved communications and information-sharing toward the goal of a cooperative, peaceful, and mutually beneficial political and economic relationship. With this engagement, hopefully both sides, China and the United States, will develop a better understanding of how to interact with the other, so that China's rise will become an opportunity, not a threat.