Evan Medeiros, the former White House adviser on Asia, who is regarded as “a key architect” of Barack Obama’s “pivot” to the region, will be speaking at the Asia Society this Friday on the evolving Sino-American relationship. In April, Medeiros, who can speak Japanese and Putonghua, attended a US state dinner hosted for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Also on the guest list that evening was George Takei …

Born in 1937, the Star Trek actor – he played Sulu in the television series and six films – was five years old when he and his parents were sent to an internment camp in Arkansas during the second world war: “We were Americans. We simply happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor,” said the son of Japanese- American parents. Also a distance runner, Takei carried the Olympic flame through Little Tokyo, in Los Angeles, ahead of the 1984 Games, which ran into controversy when an athlete collided with American Mary Decker Slaney in the 3,000-metre race, potentially costing the US a medal. The runner in question was Zola Budd …

A white South African barefoot running prodigy, Budd, then aged 18, had entered the 1984 Olympics as a British citizen, after The Daily Mail newspaper put “intense pressure” on the Thatcher government to grant her a passport; South African athletes were banned from the Games under anti-apartheid sanctions. Budd now claims she was oblivious back then to the imprisonment of a man who would go on to govern the Rainbow Nation. His name, of course, was Nelson Mandela …

Originally called Rolihlahla, meaning “troublemaker” in Xhosa, Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994; two years earlier he had acted in the Spike Lee biopic Malcolm X, playing a teacher reciting the African-American human rights activist’s “We want freedom” speech to Soweto children, although Mandela refused to say the line “by any means necessary”. In 2012, millions of people around the world sang Happy Birthday to Mandela, at 8am South African time, as he turned 94. The day before he had received a special guest at his residence: Bill Clinton …

The former US president credited Mandela’s advice, after his Oval Office escapades with Monica Lewinsky were revealed in the press, with saving his marriage to Hillary Clinton. In his 2004 autobiography, My Life, Clinton also revealed that after the scandal broke, he had been banished from the marital bed and forced to sleep on a White House couch. Clinton began his political career while a student at Georgetown University, in Washington, during which time he was elected president of the student council and was a clerk in the office of then Arkansas senator J. William Fulbright …

Born on April 9, 1905, Fulbright earned a political science degree from the University of Arkansas. He was a senator for three decades but is best known for creating the prestigious Fulbright scholarship programme in 1946; recipients of the educational grants have included more than 50 Nobel Prize laureates and over 80 Pulitzer Prize winners. One Fulbright scholar, who through the programme studied international relations at the University of Cambridge, is Evan Medeiros.