China has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember, starting with my first mentor, a Chinese friend of the family who dazzled me when I was small, and who remains an inspiration having apparently been born with 3,000 years of concentrated thinking about right living encoded in her genes. It was her influence that led me to study modern and classical Chinese at university, and to live, work and study over a period of seven years in Shanghai, Beijing and Taipei.
Background colour: ‘Chinese sky’ by Klip
Research on China
China was also at the core of my research on court jesters, which drew on hundreds of previously untranslated accounts of their antics from Chinese history and literature, giving them the limelight they deserve and incidentally demonstrating the universal nature of court fools, often presented as a rather Eurocentric affair.
Working in China
Having moved seamlessly from court jesters to sustainable business (each having some sort of sanity at their core), I led the industry capacity building activities of the EU’s biggest environment cooperation programme in China, piloting a sustainable business network in four cities and developing senior executive seminars on sustainable business, delivered in Chinese.
As China takes a place in the world commensurate with its size and civilization, its decisions and action will be critical to setting us on a more sustainable trajectory. Snowballing awareness in China in recent years gives some cause for hope, with the potential for it to play a leading role in rebalancing our collective relationship with the limited resources of the planet. I look forward to seeing how this might unfold, for all the challenges that will entail.
Most mornings, I practice Chinese writing (my neat, babyish hand doesn’t qualify as ‘calligraphy’). China is a lifelong passion and if I can act as a cultural bridge in helping you build rewarding relationships with this magnificent, daunting country, please let me know.