In recognition of China’s critical role in international relations and the University’s interest in facilitating dialogue on pressing policy issues, the Strauss Center launched its Understanding China program in the fall of 2015.

The inaugural year's presentations hosted high-level experts with different perspectives on U.S. strategy towards China. The first session in the fall of 2015 considered current and potential future U.S. strategies toward China, and vice versa, with a discussion moderated by Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar Joshua Eisenman. In the spring of 2016, the series resumed with a panel discussion of China’s strategy toward the developing world, exploring what this strategy means for the U.S. and the rest of the international community. In the fall, Amb. Derek Mitchell addressed China's security objectives in Asia, based on his experience as U.S. ambassador to Myanmar. Spring 2017 sessions covered China's strategies in the Asia-Pacific region and the implications that China's actions might have for U.S. national security objectives. In 2018 the Strauss Center hosted an important academic conference at UT-Austin, one that brought leading scholars of Chinese foreign policy into conversation with experts on America’s foreign policy towards China. The aim was to explore the domestic factors that influence each country’s policy towards the other, and towards matters of mutual (but perhaps conflicting) interest. Participants presented scholarly papers exploring how factors such as factional political struggles, power consolidation, and domestic precommitments influence policy decisions.