Winning in China: Henry Winter's Story

On our China Channel, Eli Bildner posted an eloquent appreciation of Henry Winter, an American who had made a big impression in China before his death last year, from a cerebral hemorrhage, at age 43. I mention it now for these reasons:

- To encourage you to read it. I never met Henry Winter, but I feel as if I know him thanks to this essay. And, as you will see, Bildner is writing about much more.

- To point you to two items of context about Win in China, the idealistic/crazy game show on Chinese TV that made Henry Winter famous there. One is my article on the show's early days back in 2007; the other is an item about Ole Schell's documentary film on the program.

- To embed a clip of one famous moment from the show, which Bildner describes. This is when Henry Winter exchanges quick repartee, all in Mandarin, with the judges on this Chinese reality-TV show. Eli Bildner describes one of the exchanges:
In a question-and-answer session following Henry's pitch, one of the panel's three judges, a software billionaire named Shi Zhuyu, asks Henry whether he is just a "floral piece" for his company. At first, Henry looks confused, and the show's host -- thinking that perhaps Henry had become lost in the rapid-fire Mandarin -- interjects to clarify:

"Are you just one of those good-looking but useless CEOs?" she asks.

"I got it the first time," Henry replies with a grin. "I was just waiting for him to ask a bit more tactfully."
You can see that exchange starting shortly after time 3:00 of the short clip below. His "bit more tactfully" zinger, and the laughing reply by its target and the Chinese audience, is around time 3:35. Even if you don't understand a word of it you will enjoy the personal dynamics that need no interpretation, including the pose Henry Winter strikes around time 3:18.

I'm sorry never to have met Henry Winter, and am glad for Bildner's effort to see that he is remembered.

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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