Professor Yuan is deputy dean in the School of International Studies, and also the director of the American Studies Center of Peking University. She finished her graduate study at Peking University and was a visiting scholar at UC-Berkeley from 1983 to 1985. From 1989 to 1990, she was a senior associate member at St. Antony's College at Oxford University, U.K. Since 1995, she has been invited to conduct research at leading American institutions including the Carter Center in Atlanta, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. She is a world traveler and is a frequent speaker at international gatherings such as the Trilateral Commission, the World Economic Forum, and the Club of Rome.
Professor Yuan teaches the History of International Relations and Western Classics of International Relations at Peking University. Her publications include A History of International Relations (1648-1989), Cross Century Assignment: International Relations Studies in China. She is also the co-editor of Sino-American Relations, 1945-1955, the Golden Age of the U.S.-China-Japan Triangle, 1972-1989.
Professor Yuan is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and a member of the committee of Foreign Relations of CPPCC. She sits on the boards of numerous organizations in China. She was also the trustee of the Asia Society in New York from 1998-2004. She joined the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York In 2004 and the Board of the United Nations Foundation in 2007.