The Beijing Olympic Games were a powerful spectacle, stunning in sight and sound.

But the moment that made the biggest impression on me came during an informal visit just before the Games to one of the new Chinese internet companies, and in conversation with some of the younger Chinese entrepreneurs.  

These people, men and women, were smart, sharp, forthright, unafraid to express their views about China and its future.  Above all, there was a confidence, an optimism, a lack of the cynical, and a presence of the spirit of get up and go, that reminded me greatly of the United States at its best and any country on its way forward.

These are the words of Tony Blair, taken from an op-ed he wrote for The Wall Street Journal shortly after the Games concluded two years ago (August 27, 2008).  Its headline:  “Help China Embrace the Future”

The former UK Prime Minister’s observations back then summarise perfectly the energy, the sense of commitment and ownership of the future that many of us felt in the presence of our Chinese colleagues last week. 

As you have seen elsewhere on myKGN, Ketchum Greater China marked its 30th anniversary with a major training programme – easily the biggest we’ve ever done there.  My fellow instructors – Peter Fleischer, Jonathan Kopp and Roy Edmondson – came away from the experience feeling that we, the teachers, may have learned more than the pupils.

Over the years and on more than one occasion I have heard Kenneth Chu, chairman of Ketchum Greater China, make the point that our agency will have to evolve and adjust to a global marketplace in which economic power soon will be shared with the Far East.  

I wonder if we quite understand what that means, we whose culture (not just our politics and economies) has dominated for so long.  It will be a rather strange, possibly unnerving experience.  Personally, I think it will be incredibly enriching.  New experiences; new ways of thinking liberate creative energy.

Tony Blair wrote those words, too.  

Today Blair’s memoirs, “A Journey” have been published and, perhaps predictably, he’s getting ripped.  “Reads less like a memoir, more like a long memo to his staff …”

But he got his op-ed on China and its future exactly write.  


PS Read the full piece click here

Jon Higgins is responsible for Ketchum’s offices in Asia, Latin America and Middle East & Africa. In these regions, he is responsible for client stewardship, business development, and new ventures, as well as enhancement of the agency’s global reputation for creativity, innovation, and thought leadership. Jon is a member of Ketchum’s Executive Committee.

Prior to assuming this role in 2008, Jon was CEO of Ketchum EMEA, covering offices in the U.K., Germany, France, Spain and Italy, as well as an exclusive network of 20 affiliates.

In addition, Jon helped lead the creation, global launch and agency integration of the Ketchum Programming Process (KPP), an ambitious undertaking aimed at leveraging the agency’s digital strategy, creative resources and unique culture into a consistent approach to client programming.

Jon is based in Washington, D.C. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California.