October 5, 2011 — University of Virginia foreign affairs professor Brantly Womack was given the China Friendship Award as part of China's Oct. 1 National Day ceremonies in Beijing, led by Premier Wen Jiabao. The award is China's highest honor for foreigners who have "made outstanding contributions to the country's economic and social progress" and is comparable to France's Legion of Honor medal.
Womack was one of 50 honorees from 23 countries, mostly involved in major projects in medicine, science and engineering. Womack was one of five Americans and the only social scientist to receive the award.
The award was presented by Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang, followed by a state banquet celebrating National Day in the Great Hall of the People.
Womack has participated in activities at 18 universities and research institutes in China, and is an honorary professor at three Chinese universities. At U.Va., he is Cumming Memorial Professor of Foreign Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences, and has served as director of the East Asia Center and chair of the former Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures.
He first visited China in 1978, and has authored several books and more than 100 articles and chapters on Asian politics, most of which have been translated into Chinese.
Most recently, he authored "China Among Unequals: Asymmetric International Relationships in Asia" and edited "China's Rise in Historical Perspective," which was based on a lecture series at U.Va.'s Miller Center.
"In the present political environment – with China-bashing an all-too-common occurrence in the American media – this award is a great example and validation of U.Va.'s commitment to international relationships with institutions in Asia," said David Leblang, J. Wilson Newman Professor of Governance and chair of the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics.