Smartphone pictures of China

When I was in art academy, the vaguest class we had was on concept development (‘workshop activity’, or in Dutch ‘atelier practicum’), and one part of it was just collecting pictures, which we’d then discuss personally with the teacher. This was always on Mondays and the continuous struggle of it is burned in my mind. […]

Understanding China (or actually; how not to misunderstand it)

In 2017 I decided I wanted to move to China and I started to prepare myself, trying to understand the culture and market. I had nobody to really guide me, so I read books from several categories; Online media on how to do marketing in China. Most of these books were kinda nonsense that didn’t […]

A good look at China

路上,乡下,中国 Long rides on the National Day of the PRC are becoming a ritual. 136 km from Shanghai to Nantong today. My favorite part is always the ferry. Cars can choose one of two huge bridges, but not so much for bicycles. The Yangtze river is massive — and because all the passengers walk around […]

Should you learn Mandarin despite China’s zero covid policy?

There’s a huge overlap between politics, culture, and language. And even though I’d like to focus on the latter, China’s future will also affect many potential Mandarin learners — especially those not in China now, but looking to study or work in China in the future. Regardless of whether you agree with zero covid or […]

Cities you’ve never heard of make up a huge part of China

Written for Dao Insights Last week, a colleague told me she’s from the same hometown as Zhou Enlai (周恩来 the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China): Huai’an (淮安) in Jiangsu province (江苏省). I had never heard of that place, and it’s the same thing when people tell me they’re from Kaifeng (开封) or […]

On China

China is twice the size of the European Union and has over three times the population. You wouldn’t very easily generalize such a diverse area, and neither am I trying to do with China. So for financial news or politics, subscribe to a newspaper, for big sweeping generalizations or a singular answer to “What’s (the […]

In Kunshan: I’ve seen the future of China

Kunshan is where the high-speed way train stops to unload passengers, where people refuel their car, or where an English teacher first starts working in China before realizing there’s nothing to do there and moves to a better place. Kunshan’s biggest benefit is often described as; “well, it’s close to Shanghai”, or; “yeah, there is […]

Writing on China

Most sports journalists ask dumb questions, like they’ll ask an athlete “Do you look forward to the match?” — and travel writing often lacks specifics, stacking superlatives: “The waterfall was amazing, and the forest stunningly beautiful.” Each way of writing or topic has its own problems. China writing is often caught in one of two […]

China CEO II review

This is why I don’t read non-fiction anymore. Big words like “talent” and “ambition” and “culture” are thrown around — but those words are such strong bullshit indicators because they’re neither an actual goal nor an actual strategy. Yes, there is some concrete advice in here, but in two hundred-plus pages it doesn’t get beyond […]

Apples & yogurt: What money means in China

Money is the invisible friend (or foe) that appears in every story. Janet, born in the 1970s Janet teaches about foreign-invested joint ventures in China at Fudan University. At the start of her lecture, she introduces herself starting from present to past. She now travels around the world advising big multinationals — but her roots […]