AFSC in China

  • 1925: AFSC begins work on a model village near Shanghai to improve social conditions among Chinese laborers.
  • 1938: AFSC establishes a Friends Center in Shanghai.
  • 1940s: AFSC continues to support community-level work in China.
  • 1941: An AFSC ambulance unit serves people harmed by Japan’s invasion of China. More than 150 volunteer ambulance drivers provide emergency transportation, medical care and comfort to Chinese citizens affected by the war. With direct participation of Chinese Primer Zhou Enlai, the AFSC Ambulance Unit sends a delegation to work in Yan’an.
  • 1950s-60s: AFSC lobbies for China's inclusion in the United Nations.
  • Cold War Era: AFSC works with U.S. government officials to recognize the People’s Republic of China as a major world power. During the height of McCarthy’s Red Scare in the United States, AFSC publishes a book titled “A New China Policy,” and sponsors a series of conferences in the United States calling for recognition of the new China. This leads to the founding of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, which later organized the Ping Pong Diplomacy delegation. At conferences with UN diplomats in Geneva and New York, AFSC advocates for the People’s Republic of China’s assumption of the China seat at the UN.
  • 1971-72: AFSC leads two high-level delegations to China and publishes a series of books aimed at broadening dialogue, facilitating exchanges, and building understanding between the U.S. and China.
  • 1980s: AFSC promotes friendship exchanges and study visits. AFSC began sending agricultural materials and aid to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from China.
  • 1990: AFSC leads a high-level delegation on a visit to China hosted by CAIFU (Chinese Association for International Friendship and Understanding), which meets with a number of influential Chinese leaders, including Foreign Minister Huang Hua.
  • 1996-99: AFSC organizes a series of economic exchanges, which consider the effects of rapid industrialization on women, particularly women from the Chinese countryside. This work continues into the early 2000s, with AFSC beginning programs in 2004 to assist women migrant workers, and then to sponsor delegations of Chinese officials to travel to Hong Kong and the Philippines to study government policy and services for migrant workers.
  • 2001 to 2009: AFSC runs the China Summer camp and engage with provincial officials, communities, and universities on issues affecting Chinese society today, including work on migration and on conflict resolution.
  • 2009 to present: The East Asia Quaker International Affairs program works with China on global peace and conflict issues.

China, having rebuilt its economy after World War II, has been recognized as a rapidly growing global power along with Brazil, Russia, and India. China’s role in Asia as a large-scale donor to developing countries, investor, and an influential player in major international institutions, has a great impact on shifts in influence and power within global political, social, and economic systems.

Why we're there

  • To build understanding: AFSC’s work in China stems from a deeply held commitment to peace and a belief in the importance of international cooperation given the differences of ideology, culture and context. We work through dialogue and exchanges at all levels — from young people to academics to policymakers.
  • To engage in dialogue: As China’s engagement and influence in the world grows, communication is even more important. China’s increasingly complex society and Chinese perceptions on critical issues have great influence and impact on the economies and social structures of different nations. Countries and civil societies in dialogue with China can learn from Chinese perspectives, while China can better understand the concerns of its citizens and communities.