Chou conceived the idea of a structured cultural exchange in 1972 on his first return to China. With the agreement of Chinese cultural and political leaders in 1977 and the support of US foundations, he established The Center for US-China Arts Exchange at Columbia University in 1978.
Yunnan is one of the most ethnically and culturally diversified regions of the world. The Center’s goal is to create a model for integrating conservation and development.
As a result of “The Yunnan Initiative,” the Center and Yunnan Province implemented two demonstration projects which brought together international experts and local professionals, leaders and citizens.