POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — Nicholas Platt, a long-time China specialist and three-time U.S. ambassador who accompanied President Richard Nixon on his historic diplomatic mission to China in 1972, will deliver the C. Mildred Thompson Lecture, “China: Then and Now,” on Tuesday, November 13, at 5:30pm, in the Sanders Classroom Building Spitzer Auditorium (room 212). Free and open to the public, this lecture is sponsored by the History Department and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty.
Ambassador Platt took the unusual step of studying Mandarin as a young diplomatic officer in the early 1960s, when Communist China was firmly closed to the West. This put him in a key position when U.S. relations to China suddenly opened. After serving on President Nixon’s diplomatic team in China, Platt was stationed in Beijing in the newly established U.S. Liaison Office from 1973-1974, with subsequent posts in Tokyo and positions in Washington.
As part of several days Platt will spend at Vassar as the college’s first Ambassador-in-Residence, his lecture will share experiences and insights gained from a long and distinguished career in the diplomatic service and as president of the Asia Society. His presentation will include “home movie” footage of his participation in the 1972 China visit and of life in China while he and his family were stationed there in 1973. Platt will also read from his 2010 memoir, China Boys: How U.S. Relations with the PRC Began and Grew, which former Wall Street Journal China Bureau Chief James McGregor described as a “timely, enlightening, and entertaining book by a distinguished U.S.-China relations insider who was with Nixon and Kissinger at the beginning and has enjoyed a ringside seat ever since.”
While at Vassar Ambassador Platt will also speak in individual classes, meet with History and Asian Studies students and faculty, and give a talk for the Career Development Office on life in the Foreign Service.
About Ambassador Nicholas Platt
Nicholas Platt served in the U.S. Foreign Service for 35 years, including posts as ambassador to Zambia (1982-1984), the Philippines (1987-1991), and Pakistan (1991-1992). After retiring from the State Department Platt was President of the Asia Society for 12 years. He is a member of the New York Council on Foreign Relations, board member of the Friends of China Heritage Fund Limited, and Chair of the U.S.-China Education Trust Advisory Board. Platt received a BA from Harvard College and an MA from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
The C. Mildred Thompson Lecture Series honors a Vassar alumna who went on be a professor of history and dean at her alma mater.
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