Founded in 1986, an educational joint venture between Johns Hopkins University and Nanjing University has survived the trials of culture, geopolitics, and nature. As it entered its third decade, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies offered the first ever Sino-U. S. joint master's degree. This article traces the evolution of this bi-national institution, exploring its role in international relations, cultural exchange, economic globalization, and China's postMao drive toward modernization. A risk-taking Chinese university president, his American counterpart, a Chinese-American scientist who served as cultural mediator, the Tiananmen crisis, the SARS epidemic, Chinese and American students seeking to advance careers and mutual understanding–all these factors play a role in the story. Though continuous in many ways with early twentieth-century exchanges, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center diverges from the former pattern by being an equal partnership. This difference reflects China's growing economic and political power as well as a different American sensibility. In addition to reflecting the state of bilateral relations, the Center has contributed to relations through the symbolism of its survival and hopes, over the long term, to contribute by training future leaders in the government, business, and civil society sectors of the two societies.