APS News

Remembering the APS-China Program

The death of Professor Xie Xide, on March 4, 2000, brought to mind her many contributions, and in particular, her key role in the "China Scholars Program" during the 1980s. This program, more formally known as the APS-China Cooperative Program in Atomic, Molecular, Laser and Condensed Matter Physics, had the goal of helping China to reestablish its physics community after the Cultural Revolution ended. Forty-eight bright young physicists spent approximately two years each in the US conducting research in university and industrial labs. As the lead person from China, Professor Xie committed herself to selecting only the most scientifically qualified physicists to participate in the Program. Now many of those who received advanced training in this Program hold distinguished positions in Chinese universities. Professor Xie was a tireless proponent of cooperation and collaboration between Chinese and American physicists, and throughout her life, she lost no opportunity to bring them together to their mutual benefit.

The Tiananmen crackdown of June 1989, which resulted in the APS canceling a meeting to celebrate a successful decade of cooperation, was a sad finale to the Program. The American Physical Society still feels a strong sense of accomplishment in helping to forge lasting links between Chinese and American physics, and helping China to develop its physics community. In this achievement Professor Xie, rightly deserves to be remembered as one of the most influential figures in forwarding the cause of international science.

- Benjamin Bederson

Editor's Note: Benjamin Bederson, formerly provost of NYU and editor-in-chief of the APS, was chair of the American Coordinating Committee for the APS-China Program, 1987-1991.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette