The Burlingame Foundation commemorates the life and work of 19th Century statesmen Anson Burlingame and seeks to inspire mutual trust, respect and collaboration between the United States, China and other nations in addressing the challenges of the 21st Century. Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the Burlingame Treaty that changed the U.S. foreign policy to China from one based on “unequal treaties” to one based on “equality of nations.” This shift in foreign policy showcased the benefits of coordinated and collective action between the two powers. In the spirit of this treaty and of the accomplishments of Anson Burlingame, the Burlingame Foundation proposes an annual award, that will commence in 2018. The Prize will be awarded to a person who has distinguished himself or herself in promoting U.S.-Chinese collaboration. In that sense, it will be a fitting tribute to the memory of Anson Burlingame.

The Burlingame Prize is intended to complement the existing efforts of the Foundation, which include the establishment of a distributed global university focused on the study of issues important to the peaceful development of humankind, and pursuing support for initiating the production of a major motion picture or documentary depicting the life and achievements of Anson Burlingame. The international award will increase public recognition and incentivize initiatives around the world to promote U.S.-Chinese collaboration.

The Burlingame Prize will be announced annually on November 16th in the city of Burlingame, CA that was named after the diplomat. The inaugural award ceremony will take place in 2018, in conjunction with the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Burlingame Treaty. The International Day of Tolerance is celebrated on November 16th and provides an appropriate context. Declared by the United Nations, the International Day of Tolerance is an annual observance to generate public awareness of the dangers of intolerance. The Burlingame Treaty of 1868 was the first equal treaty between China and a western power after the Opium Wars and shaped the image of China as a sovereign state. By following a cooperative policy that substituted the old doctrine of violence, Anson Burlingame played a key role in fostering the mutual tolerance between the US and China.

The prize will be supervised by a committee of individuals with a high moral stature who have distinguished themselves in their respective careers and will be selected by the Burlingame Foundation. Candidates for the prize competition can be nominated either by qualified individuals or by committee members. The committee will consider nominations of individuals following their past and ongoing efforts in promoting U.S.-China collaboration and the eligibility criteria will be guided by the UN Declaration of Principles on Tolerance. The committee will then be responsible for selecting the final Burlingame Prize Laureate from the candidates. The following timeline and milestones are proposed:

  • Call for nominations: May
  • Deadline for nominations: August
  • Pre-selection (short list)
  • Evaluation process: October
  • Selection and notification of the winner: November 16
  • Award ceremony: Most suitable subsequent venue and date


The laureate will receive his or her prize, consisting of a medal, a diploma and a document confirming the prize amount, at an award ceremony in Burlingame, CA, or most suitable subsequent venue and date in collaboration with partner organizations.
A prize in the name of Anson Burlingame with an annual award announced on the International Day of Tolerance would be a fitting tribute to his memory and, in an age of rising global tensions, would do its part in promoting peace by encouraging a diplomatic relationship, based on mutual tolerance, between the U.S. and China.