Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered remarks at the inaugural meeting of the Advisory Committee for the 100,000 Strong Initiative on May 10, 2011. Secretary Clinton said the initiative is "an essential building block to a more solid foundation of a relationship going forward." She said that despite the improvements in communication, there is still a lot to be learned between our two nations.
Secretary Clinton said, "...I was struck when we did the Shanghai Expo Pavilion, which when I became Secretary of State was not anywhere in any briefing book that I was given, and I have to confess I didn't even know about it until I was in China in February of '09 on my very first trip at a very formal consultation with the foreign minister and other dignitaries from China. And on the list of all the issues, many of which were from nuclear proliferation to the relationship with Taiwan and Tibet and so much else, I was asked why we had decided to be only one of two nations -- the United States and Andorra -- not to participate in the expo. And I'm flipping through my briefing book trying to figure what the answer to that was. And part of it is that we don't do expos anymore in our country, we certainly don't provide any public funding for it, and so we weren't going to be there. And I don't know much about China, but I figured that that would not be a good outcome, so we hustled around and put together a pavilion.
"But the key element of it was we had all these young Americans who just looked like the face of America, of every shade of color, every ethnic and other background, who had been studying Chinese. So they were our hosts, and I think part of the reason we were the second-most visited pavilion was because the Chinese were just thrilled to come meet these young Americans who were speaking their language. And they were asking all kinds of questions, and the young Americans were asking about their pronunciation, and it was just a fabulous moment. And we need more of that.
"So this 100,000 Strong Initiative is going to help us do that. And one of its significant attributes is, as you know, it is privately funded, which is where all of you come in. We need your expert advice on how to implement, promote, and expand the understanding of this mission in our private sector. We're in a good place now. When we announced it a year ago -- Mrs. Obama did the formal announcement, but we kind of previewed it a year ago that we wanted to do this, and then during the Hu Jintao visit Mrs. Obama announced it formally -- we had said we wanted to raise $7 million in our first year. And we've already passed that mark in private pledges, so we have some terrific momentum, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us.
She continued, "...I think we're off to a good start. I'm thrilled you're willing to participate. I want to thank Assistant Secretary Ann Stock for her bureau's cooperation with Assistant Secretary Campbell and his in putting all of the moving pieces together, and I think it's one more indicator of our very strong conviction that this relationship is critical to both of us moving forward."
You can read the Secretary's complete remarks here.