My holiday in Holland is almost over, tomorrow we will fly back to China. But today I could still participate in the Dutch TV program Buitenhof to talk about doing business in China. This show is one of the best talk shows in The Netherlands (in terms of high quality guests and discussions), so of course I accepted the invitation.
The driver for the program picked up my dad and me (he joined me) at 9:30 at my parents place with a luxurious VW Phaeton to drive us to the studio in Amsterdam. Because Elaine had had a bad night with lots of crying I hadn’t slept much and I was happy to be able to close my eyes for an hour on the way to the studio. We arrived there at 11 and I realized it was the exact same studio as where I did the Pauw & Witteman show (the other high quality Dutch talk show) about 2 years ago. Just a different decor.
The other guests had already arrived. Bettine Vriesekoop, a former successful Dutch table tennis player and later journalist in China for Dutch paper NRC, Prof. Kristofer Schipper, a retired sinology professor now living in Fuzhou, and Jurjen Groot, lawywer for CMS in Shanghai. I had a chat with them and the show’s producers before going into the powder room to get some make-up. Then we filmed some shots in the bar for the (live) teaser of the program before the show started at 12:10 PM.
The show was live, which I prefer over a taped show (live shows can’t be edited). The program started with an interview with Prof. Schipper about his life as a Taoist master, a sinology professor and now as the founder of the first library in China specialized in Western art, literature and culture. To be honest, he had an interesting story but I could not really relate to him. The China he described in the show was not the China I live in, but the China of a long time ago. For me this part went too slow and lasted way too long, and when I later checked Twitter it turned out that many people felt the same.
After a 5 minute spoken column by Naema Tahir, the discussion part of the program between Bettine, Jurjen and me started. We only had about 20 minutes, way too short for a good discussion. The first question I got was about censorship, so the typical Western negative tone was set. After the pre-discussion with the producers of the program I had the feeling this program would have a more positive tone, with a focus on entrepreneurship and how to do business in or with China, but that was not really the case.
The length of the discussion was also not enough to go deeper into certain subjects. A pity, because now a lot of interesting aspects that were discussed with the producer were left out (e.g. about the the take-over of Dutch companies like Draka by Chinese companies, about why China is so successful, about the fact that China is probably one of the most capitalist countries in the world etc.). Would have loved to talk about these subjects for a while, but it was not possible.
Anyway, I enjoyed being part of the show, but it could have been a lot better. After the show we had a good lunch with the presenter, the guests and the production staff, where I also raised some of these points with the people of the Buitenhof production. Some of the guests also agreed that the discussions were not deep enough and that there was not enough time for all topics. A missed chance to explain what China is really about and why Europe should watch out for what’s happening in China.
Interesting is that when I got home people and I went through the back channel on Twitter most people seemed to have the same impressions as I had. I am not sure if Buitenhof checks the tweets about its weekly