Scott Schubert, For The Miami Student

Photographs are displayed on the walls of MacMillan Hall throughout the month of April. (SAMANTHA LUDINGTON | The Miami Student)

A new photo exhibit that opened April 12 in MacMillan Hall highlights the progression of diplomatic relations between the United States and China over the past 40 years.

The exhibit is on display until April 30 and is being put on by the Confucius Institute and the Center for American and World Cultures (CAWC).

Pictures in the exhibit, provided by Hanban/The Confucius Institute, document early relations in the 1970s and stem all the way to current trade and cultural interactions between the two countries.

Each of the pictures includes a caption describing the event taking place as well as an explanation about how it was important in shaping diplomatic ties. Parallel to the strengthening of political ties, the exhibit’s pictures also track the cultural and educational transfers that became a part of the United States’ relationship with China. According to Xingyun Song, associate director of the Confucius Institute, 78 pictures were chosen from a pool of 370 to be used in the exhibit.

“It will give students an idea of the history, and how these two countries established diplomatic relations,” Song said. “It will give students an idea how long these relations will go on because there are mutual benefits.”

Jacqueline Rioja, assistant director of CAWC, thinks the exhibit will be a very positive learning experience for those who visit.

She said the exhibit is open to the public, not just Miami students.

“It is an opportunity for Miami to create a better climate for not only our domestic students but particularly our international students,” Rioja said. “We created a space for our students to learn more about each other.”

The exhibit itself is composed of three sections. The first section focuses on the history of relations prior to and after President Richard Nixon’s visit to China to meet with Mao Zedong in 1972.

Song said relations before and even during the 1970s were stressed in the wake of the political differences arising from the Cold War era. Direct military confrontation between the two countries in the Korean War was a major factor in the lack of negotiations before the 1970s, as well as China’s status as a communist nation. 

Normalization of diplomacy was established with China after Nixon’s visit, and the United States has made cultural, political and educational exchanges with China ever since. The exhibit is extremely up to date and features pictures of President Barack Obama and his cabinet in negotiations with the Chinese during his first year of presidency.

Pictures and captions in the second section highlight the cultural and educational exchanges made between the two countries. The section focuses on people-to-people friendships between the Chinese and Americans rather than the political agreements that made travel between the two nations possible.

In the third section of the exhibit, the pictures focus on the economic aspects of the United States’ relationship with China. Currently, the United States has the largest economy in the world and second is the People’s Republic of China. The section follows the amount of imports and exports from each country and the policies that make trade agreeable between the nations. 

First-year Raleigh Pearson has heard about the exhibit and plans to visit.

“I think it sounds interesting,” Pearson said. “The relationship between China and America at this time period is really important because we rely on each other so much, so it would be a great opportunity to learn about the history that made it possible.”