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Research funded in part by the Arlen Specter Center Research Fellowship.


Scholars and policy analysts are currently engaged in an ongoing debate about what the United States’ relationship with the People’s Republic of China will be.[1] According to international relations scholar Bruce W. Jentleson, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has, “…the world’s second largest economy… the third largest amount [of military spending] in the world, [and is] the world’s most populous country.”[2] Perspectives on the U.S. relationship with the PRC range from “confrontation” to “cooperation,”[3] and congressional representatives can potentially shape this debate on China through congressional delegation trips. Congressional delegation trips are an underexamined phenomenon in the study of U.S. foreign policy. While often confined to specific lines of text, footnotes, and the moniker, “fact-finding mission,”[4] these trips can potentially provide a vast array of opportunities for U.S. policy makers. What could the impact of congressional delegations on U.S. foreign policy potentially be? An examination of a Senator’s archival collection, as well as U.S. newspapers from years of congressional travel to the People’s Republic of China (Hereafter PRC), the Republic of China (Hereafter Taiwan), and Hong Kong, demonstrates the impact that congressional visits can potentially have on U.S. foreign policy.

[1]. Bruce W. Jentleson, American Foreign Policy, 5th Ed (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2014), 422-425.

[2]. Jentleson, American Foreign Policy, 421-422.

[3]. Ibid., 424.

[4]. John J. Mearsheimer, and Stephen M. Walt, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” Middle East Policy 13, 3 (Fall 2006), 53,