NEW YORK, March 15, 2017 — Asia Society mourns the passing of China scholar and diplomat Richard Solomon, and remembers his many contributions to the world of international affairs and the U.S.-China relationship.
Asia Society President and CEO Josette Sheeran commented: "For many decades, Dick Solomon was a force for constructive American leadership and diplomacy in the world. As founding co-chair of the Asia Society Policy Institute he was vital to its successful launch. We were honored to work with him and he will be sorely missed."
Solomon was president of the United States Institute of Peace from 1993 to 2012, during which time he oversaw its growth into a center of international conflict management analysis and applied programs.
He made an early mark in his diplomatic career when he was hired by the National Security Council in 1971 and assisted in the "ping pong diplomacy" that led to an opening in U.S.-Sino relations. He later served as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. He negotiated the Cambodia peace treaty, the first United Nations "Permanent Five" peacemaking agreement and played a leading role in the dialogue on nuclear issues between the United States and South and North Korea. He also helped establish the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation initiative and led U.S. negotiations with Japan, Mongolia, and Vietnam on important bilateral matters. From 1992-93, he served as U.S. ambassador to the Philippines.
His obituary in The Washington Post noted the breadth of his diplomatic portfolio, adding that "the central focus of his life's work was China."
In a 2012 interview with ChinaFile, the online magazine of the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations, Solomon discussed China's leadership transition and expectation that incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping would focus on "the need for stability rooted in economic growth."
In comments to Asia Society that same year, he spoke of China in the context of the U.S. presidential elections. While a new president may initially highlight problems, "once the administration has responsibility, they learn pretty quickly that the issues that have to be worked at a practical level require cooperation."