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Tomas Etzler and the Modern Face of China

The evening guest of the Venture Club on 29 October was the elite journalist Tomáš Etzler, who has worked in the USA and China. He intrigued us with his energetic narration of his journalistic career, his knowledge of China and his bold insights into the background of Czech-Chinese relations.

He now lives in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. He writes books, lectures and is active in the field of corporate consulting.

Journey from the Czech Republic to China and back again

It was interesting to follow Tomáš’s pilgrimage from Ostrava Czechoslovak Television to the USA, where he supported himself as best he could, studied and prepared for his big opportunity. “I had to learn very quickly at CNN and eventually they invited me from Denver to Atlanta. And I started working as a news editor in the foreign desk,” says Tomas, adding: “I was crazy about it at first, but then I got bored, and I was answering phones, but I also wanted to travel the world.”

But Tomas was lucky, and through dedication, foresight – he privately secured a visa to Afghanistan – and perseverance, he got opportunities at CNN in Afghanistan, Iran and Ethiopia. He gradually worked his way up, and his work was rewarded with a 2008 Emmy in journalism.

In 2009, he moved to China and began working for CT. Most of us remember him from that time. China was a lesson. “I arrived there two years before the Olympics and the contrasts shocked me, with Ferraris driving alongside old bicycles. I was there to witness the biggest construction in human history,” Thomas recalls. He ended up working in China as a permanent correspondent for CT for 7 years. He filmed hundreds of reports, met many people, and therefore a large part of the lecture was dedicated to this country.

China from ordinary people to foreign trade

Thomas’ view of China is quite critical, because he is interested not only in the prosperous modern face of China, but in the real life of the people. Thomas cited countless stories and evidence. “In China, you often can’t talk publicly with passers-by because people are afraid. I have been arrested 23 times. But I’ve also met great people there,” says Tomas. An interesting aspect was Tomas’ experience in Swiss-Chinese business relations. “In China, the Swiss are successful, even though they support Tibet. So it’s not about politics, it’s about attractive goods and technology, a confident attitude. The Chinese in Switzerland don’t buy football clubs, moles and beer like they do here. The Swiss supply, for example, industrial clamps, which they cannot produce themselves in China. It is also true for the Czech Republic that they want our know-how, but it has to be sold to them in a different way”, said Tomáš.

The debate about China could have gone on for longer, but unfortunately time was limited. The good news is that Tomas has his first book of interviews on these topics coming out on 11 November 2019. It is called Who Knows Where I’ll Be Tomorrow, published by Vyšehrad. Be sure to read it. And for those who want to know more about our talk, we are also preparing a video clip of the talk for the Venture Club YouTube channel.

Authentic China in Prague

We end with one piece of practical advice. Want to try authentic Chinese food? Tomas reminisces a lot about the great cuisine. According to Tomáš Etzler, the most authentic Chinese restaurant in Prague is Kung Fu – Pure Chinese Pasta at 17 Rumunská Street in Prague 2.

And of course, if you are interested in the combination of investing, business, interesting guests and members, register with us.

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