Johan is a serial entrepreneur, writer and and presenter on Chinese radio and television with more than 400 shows. He founded China’s first international record company and a PR agency that grew into China’s largest. He is also the founder of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in China.
1. Why are you so passionate about analysing and discussing China?
Because China is still badly understood by Westerners. And this is unfortunate as China is becoming a more and more important part of the world. Regardless of if you are excited or worried about China, you still need to understand more about the country.
2. What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding of China today?
People tend see ONE picture: the world’s largest market OR the world’s largest dictatorship; lack of creative thinking BUT great results on the PISA school results comparisons; huge economic growth OR great poverty in the countryside, and so on. But to understand China, you need to be able to embrace several pictures at once: the Chinese internet is heavily censored AND vibrant commercially; the natural environment is heavily polluted AND China invests heavily in environmental technology;
3. You think that there are deep cultural reasons for China’s current development. Which are they?
An explosive mix of confucianism, capitalism and history. Thanks to Confucius, China was traditionally ruled by an educated meritocracy rather than an aristocracy, and this is the same today. Second, the age-old market economy is reflected in modern-day Chinese entrepreneurship inside the country and around the world. And finally, the Chinese self-image as the historical center of world civilisation feeds into a vision of future success.
4. You have written several books about China and the Chinese language. What’s your next book?
Another language textbook.
5. What do you love most about China?
The can-do attitude. China is full of entrepreneurs who feel that anything is possible. No, sorry, I forgot: the food. Definitely.