Note: This article originally appeared in Asian Avenue Magazine

Thirty five years after the U.S. and the P.R.C. first established diplomatic ties, some of the most promising developments in that relationship are occurring not at the national level, but below it—in states, cities and communities.

Those passionate about the U.S.-China relationship will soon gather in Denver to discuss their goals and plans, share helpful information, and take a step forward to strengthening the network.

The Tai Initiative, a new non-profit in U.S.-China relations, is holding their annual conference* bringing together education, business and local government interests on May 14 in the Tivoli Center in downtown Denver.  The purpose is to educate citizens of all kinds on their opportunities to form a stronger network of connections between Denver, the U.S.-China subnational community, and counterparts in China.

“Every week dozens of exciting and encouraging projects take place because of the actions of American and Chinese leaders at the state, city, university and corporate levels,” says Carson Tavenner, Executive Director of The Tai Initiative, “The understanding and trust developed by the best examples of these projects should be admired in contrast to the excessively negative chatter we hear in national media. We aim to balance the dialogue about this globally important relationship.”

TI has teamed up with Colorado’s Asian Chamber of Commerce (ACC), two of the region’s Confucius Institutes (from CSU and the Community College of Denver) and the U.S.-China Cooperative Association for Elected Local Officials to ensure a great event.  The collaboration has attracted such notables as the Chinese Consulate in Chicago, the Brookings Institution, China-related state associations from Iowa and Washington State, the Colorado Dept. of Education, several city mayors, and many others.

ACC President Clarence Low looks forward to meeting the Office of the Consulate General of China (the Deputy Consul General will be an afternoon speaker) and developing deeper cultural ties with China as a result. “I look forward to seeing our members take steps to deepen engagement with China by first understanding how to build connections through the government at the Chinese Consulate,” says Clarence, who will also be moderating the morning workshop on leveraging connections and regional economic cooperation. “Such ties will help our members develop business with China.”

Organizers are also facilitating ties between educational resources and educators.  Only a small percentage of our population knows the Confucius Institutes exist, much less how to connect and engage with their resources.  Collaboration between the Confucius Institutes and Colorado schools is just one area of collaboration expected May 14.

* Register for the 2014 conference here