In December 1992, Secretary Franklin led a Presidential mission to China to normalize commercial relations. She and her counterpart, Minister Li Lanqing, reconvened the Seventh Session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). The JCCT had been moribund since the events at Tiananmen Square in June 1989 due to a sanction the U.S. placed on China which banned high-level government-to-government contact. Her mission lifted that sanction and brought back $1 billion in new contracts for American companies and it gave a "green light" to U.S. companies interested in pursuing business opportunities in China. Trade with China grew dramatically in the ensuing years as did U.S. investment in China.

After leaving office in 1993, Franklin continued to travel to China, both officially and unofficially. Her meetings with high-ranking Chinese leaders during each of these visits enable her to maintain the valuable relationships she forged during her Presidential mission. Through her company, Barbara Franklin Enterprises, she advises U.S. companies doing business in China and remains deeply engaged in working to build the economic and commercial relationship between the two countries.

Recognized for her leadership and her commitment to the continued growth of the U.S.-China relationship, Franklin serves on the boards of several important organizations that work toward enhancing this relationship through advocacy and education. Notably, she is a Director and past Vice-Chair and Secretary-Treasurer of the U.S.-China Business Council. She is a Director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and an Honorary Advisor of the U.S.-China Policy Foundation. In 2016, she was awarded a “Lifetime Achievement Award in US-China Relations” by the US-China Policy Foundation.