Who We Are

Welcome message from Our New Chapter President Ralph Beha

Ralph Beha

Earlier this spring I was honored and a little humbled to be elected to be the President of the USCPFA’s Minnesota Chapter.  Honored, because I come to a Chapter that has a long, active history in promoting US –China friendship dating back to 1974 with leaders who have served at the Chapter, Region and National levels; humbled, because the scope and challenge of the USCPFA’s mission demands that we all more fully appreciate the importance of what the USCPFA is all about.

In the years following 1974 (the same year the National USCPFA was founded, and just after I’d graduated with my bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies), touring China with the USCPFA was one of the few ways that Americans could meet face-to-face with the people of China.  The organization provided resources for educators and researchers, and a platform to look beyond divisive politics to find common ground, ratchet down Cold War rhetoric, and build upon common goals and aspirations.

Over the succeeding decades, the growth of cross-border business and trade, cultural and sports exchanges, academic and research collaborations, and a host of other “touchpoints” between our two countries have provided many more opportunities for building bridges of friendship, respect and trust.  Other organizations in these areas of activity, often with narrower focus, have emerged and, rightfully, flourished.

What sets the USCPFA apart, and what our Chapter has found to be a solid foundation for continuing strength and relevance, is its breadth of people-to-people diplomacy across diverse fields of interest: cultural, business, government, educational, literary, social, sports, and others.  We embrace collaboration with public and private partners, participating in other groups’ activities and providing volunteers to help conduct events, host and support official and cultural visits, and connect local and Chinese interest groups with one another. We continue to put on holiday and other events for friendly social interaction and growing cultural awareness.

We are a volunteer organization; without our energetic volunteers, nothing happens, and with them, we succeed in our mission, literally one relationship at a time.  As President of the USCPFA-MN Chapter, I hope to continue and build upon our tradition of volunteer energy and enthusiasm, and to seek new areas to grow opportunities for mutual friendship and collaboration between the peoples of China and the United States.  Please join me in enhancing and deepening the bonds of trust, understanding and, ultimately, sustainable and lasting peace.

Thank you.   Ralph Beha (毕若孚)


uscpfa-red-bar-heavywbrushworkA Heartfelt Thank You to out-going Co-Presidents Mary Warpeha (13 years, 2 terms) and Walter Graff (17 years, 2 terms)  for their many years of dedication and service in promoting the friendships between Minnesota and China.






Contact Us

An Active Dedicated All-volunteer Board (slideshow)

The USCPFA-MN Board of Directors is a very dedicated all-volunteer board, involved in hosting delegations and sponsoring community events, among many other activities.

Congratulations to MN Chapter member Charles Petersen who was recognized with the Koji Ariyoshi Award at the 2013 National Convention in Virginia for his years of dedication to US-China relations.

Barbara Harrison with Charles Petersen receiving 2013 Koji Ariyoshi Award

Barbara Harrison with Charles Petersen receiving 2013 Koji Ariyoshi Award

Mission Statement

The US-China Peoples Friendship Association® (USCPFA) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501c(3) educational organization.  USCPFA was founded as a national organization in 1974, working on people-to-people diplomacy between Americans and Chinese.  Its goal is to develop and strengthen friendship and understanding between the peoples of the United States and China.

The Minnesota Chapter of USCPFA (USCPFA-MN) was also founded in 1974 and is a non-profit, 501c(3) non-partisan, educational organization.  It has over 150 members of all ages and backgrounds who are dedicated to developing and maintaining ties of friendship and mutual understanding between the people of China and the United States.  The Minnesota Chapter is one of over 50 chapters in four regions spanning the United States.

MN-China Sister Relationships

USCPFA-MN initiated the sister province-state relationship between Shaanxi Province and Minnesota, which resulted in the signing of a Friendship Agreement in October 1982.  USCPFA-MN also initiated the relationship between the cities of Minneapolis and Harbin, Heilongjiang, which resulted in a signed agreement in September 1992.  USCPFA-MN has also been very active with the city of St. Paul’s sister city, Changsha, Hunan, from the beginning of the sister-city relationship in May 1988.  USCPFA-MN’s volunteers play a vital role in maintaining these relationships through the hosting of visiting delegations and reciprocal exchanges.

Links to USCPFA Documents of Interest

USCPFA-MN Brochure

USCPFA-MN Year In Review

USCPFA & USCPFA-MN Establishment Documents


Who We Are – USCPFA-MN

The US-China Peoples Friendship Association® (USCPFA) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) educational organization. Our goal is to develop and strengthen friendship and understanding between the peoples of the United States and China. We are a community of volunteers.

The USCPFA national organization and the Minnesota Chapter were founded in 1974 with the mission people-to-people diplomacy between Americans and Chinese. Chapters in four regions spanning the United States comprise the organization. National policies are established by the membership, which meets biennially at a national convention. A National Board of Directors implements national policy and meets twice each year. Our local Minnesota Chapter meets monthly to plan and implement our activities.

USCPFA is financed by membership dues, donations, local fund-raising activities and tours to China.

China, with nearly one quarter of the world’s population, has emerged as a nation that plays a significant role in world affairs. With the realization of full diplomatic relations between the governments of the U.S. and China in 1979, opportunities for the American and Chinese people to learn from each other have in-creased significantly.  Cultural, scientific, educational, commercial, medical and technological exchanges which are of great value to both countries are expanding rapidly. The USCPFA-MN initiates and participates actively in these exchanges. A major channel for our activities is the sister relationships of the State of Minnesota with Shaanxi Province with Xian as the capital city, the cities of Minneapolis and Harbin, Heilongjiang, St. Paul and Changsha, Hunan.  Exchanges, tours and programs organized by USCPFA are helping to build a bridge of friendship between the people of our countries. This bridge, based on personal knowledge of the two countries can play a role in maintaining world peace.

USCPFA at the National Level

Chapters across the US offer cultural and educational programs with speakers and films on life in China; organize activities bringing together Chinese students and scholars with local residents; and participate in community festivals. Chapters publish newsletters reporting their activities and events.

Regional and sub-regional levels of sponsor conferences, traveling exhibits, tours to China, and publish newsletters.

USCPFA National publishes a quarterly US-China Review, a 32-page national journal to inform members and subscribers about China’s history and current development.

The Center for Teaching About China provides a resource catalog and inventory of curriculum materials to stimulate teaching about China in elementary and secondary schools.

USCPFA National organizes the Washington Seminar, a two-day annual seminar in the nation’s capital on U.S.-China relations and a National Conference on alternating years.

Visit the USCPFA National website

Visit the USCPFA Midwest Region Facebook page

USCPFA Statement of Principles

USCPFA is a nonprofit educational organization whose goal is to build active and lasting friendship based on mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of China.

We recognize that friendship between our peoples must be based on the knowledge of and respect for the sovereignty of each country; therefore, we respect the declaration by the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China that the resolution of the status of Taiwan is the internal affair of the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.

We recognize that friendship between our peoples and good relations between our governments plays a critical role in maintaining peace in the Pacific Basin and the world.

As an educational organization, our activities include sponsoring speakers and programs which inform the American people about China, organizing tours and special study groups to China, publishing newsletters and other literature, promoting friendship with Chinese students and scholars while in the United States, and promoting cultural, commercial and educational ex-changes.

Everyone is invited to participate in our activities, and anyone who agrees with these principles is invited to join.


USCPFA-MN Board of Directors 

The Board of Directors and Officers are elected annually by the membership.  Staggered terms are for two years and renewable.  We encourage all Board Members to attend our monthly meetings and become active in one or more of our Committees.

 2015 USCPFA-MN Board

Ralph Beha, President
Linda Mealey-Lohmann, Vice President
Wen Li, Treasurer and National Treasurer
Glynis Hinschberger, Secretary & Membership Chair

Kit Spangler, Chair Harbin Committee
Tammy Huang, Chair Shaanxi Committee
Open – Chair Changsha Committee

Barbara Harrison, Former Chapter and National President, current Midwest Region Board Representative
Joan Brzezinski
Whitney Clark
Karlynn Fronek
Walter Graff, Former Chapter Chair
Christopher S. Hang
Jennie Hsiao
Joyce Hsiao
Ruilin Li
Mindy Ratner
Mary Warpeha, Former Chapter Chair
Margaret Wong

Thank you to out-outgoing Board Members for their service and dedication: Ted Farmer, Yue-Him Tam, Neil Bray, Patricia Anderson

Back row L to R:  Christopher Hang, Zhang Youwei, Ben Zhou, Wen Li, Linda Mealey-Lohmann, C.J. Liu, Mindy Ratner, Glynis Hinschberger; Front row L to R: Judy Swanholm, Margaret Wong, Walter Graff, Mary Warpeha, Jennie Hsiao

History of USCPFA-MN Presidents 

Fred Ptashne:  Founding President of USCPFA-MN 1974 – 1987 (National President 1987-1989)
Ken Puffer: 1987 – 1990
Barbara Harrison:  1990 to 1991 (National President 1991-2005)
Jolie Klapmeier:  1991 to 1995
Walter Graff:  1995 to 2003, Co-President 2008 to 2015
Mary Warpeha: 2003 – 2007, Co-President 2008 to 2015
Ralph Beha: 2015 to present

In Memoriam

CJ Liu: October 2012
Fred Hsiao: June 21, 2010
Ken Puffer: August 10, 2009
CC Hsiao:  August 7, 2009
Mei Ling Hsu: May 2009
Wang Yang: April 2009
Howard A. Knutson: October 2006
Bill (March 1999) and Garnett (July 2005) Kirchner
Fred and Millie (January 1999) Ptashne