Saich first visited China as a student in 1976 and continues to visit each year. Currently, he is a guest professor at the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University, China. He also advises a wide range of government, private, and nonprofit organizations on work in China and elsewhere in Asia.
Saich was a trustee member of the National Committee on US-China Relations (2014-20), is a board member of AMC Entertainment Inc. and International Bridges to Justice and was the Chair of the China Medical Board (until summer 2019). He is also the US Secretary-General of the China United States Strategic Philanthropy. Previously, he was the representative for the Ford Foundation’s China Office from 1994 to 1999. The work at the Foundation included programs on legal representation, reproductive health, poverty alleviation, and international affairs. Prior to this, he was director of the Sinological Institute at Leiden University in the Netherlands.His current research focuses on politics and governance in post-Mao China, philanthropy in China; and the interplay between state and society in Asia and the respective roles they play in the provision of public goods and services at the local level. His most recent books include From Rebel to Ruler. One Hundred Years of the Chinese Communist Party (2021); Finding Allies and Making Revolution: The Early years of the Chinese Communist Party (2020); Governance and Politics of China (Fourth Edition, 2015); Chinese Village, Global Market (2012); Providing Public Goods in Transitional China (2008); Revolutionary Discourse in Mao’s Republic (with David Apter, 1998); The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist Party (1996); and China’s Science Policy in the 80s (1989); He has edited books on Political Governance in China, 2015, Philanthropy for Health in China (with Jennifer Ryan and Lincoln Chen, 2014), China's urbanization (with Shahid Yusuf, 2008), HIV/AIDS (with Joan Kaufman and Arthur Kleinman, 2006), and the Reform of China’s Financial Sector ( with Yasheng Huang and Edward Steinfeld., 2005).