Jeanne-Marie Gescher

Jeanne-Marie Gescher
Resident in Beijing since 1989, Jeanne-Marie is known to her clients and fellow China
hands as a convenor of quiet dialogue, a discrete choreographer of corporate and
policy thinking, and one of the West’s deepest thinkers about China’s fundamentals
and how they affect not only China’s future but that of the rest of the world. As
founder of one of the earliest Beijing-based advisory firms, her work in the 1990s was a
pioneering series of rethinking the West to work in the East - from putting CCTV onto
the world’s first global digital satellite platform, to choreographing the policy
environment for the first exploration and mining ventures, to finding a path for the
earliest internet and e-commerce platforms. Looking at the challenges of ‘mass,
rapid everything’, across the 2000s and for some of the world’s leading businesses,
she then worked across a host of the geopolitical, environmental, human, and ethical
challenges which China’s rise has triggered – both in China and in the wider world
beyond. Focusing on taming complexity for corporate decision-making, and
increasingly asked to address the global economic implications of ‘China’s rise’,
during this period she pioneered a highly visual format for delivering cross-cutting
insight, known as ‘landscapes’. From 2009, she limited her professional engagements
and concentrated her attention on the writing of a book which would not only
unpack China but which would open a window on what it means to ‘be Chinese’.
The result will be published in September 2015 under the title All Under Heaven:
China’s Dreams of Order.
The full bio which led Jeanne-Marie to the work which she has pioneered and the
book which she has written, is far richer than a summary can describe. Professionally,
Jeanne-Marie is a barrister; she been honorary legal advisor to successive British
Ambassadors to the PRC since 1989; she was a twice-elected chair of the British
Chamber of Commerce in China and is a longstanding advisor on policy and
geopolicy to global businesses, think tanks, and non-governmental organisations.
Prior to arriving in China, her career included professional practice with both the
European Commission and Clifford Chance (European competition law), advisory
work with the UN and teaching and research at London University’s School of Oriental
and African Studies (where she created courses on law and development for an Asia
which was then considered to be the ‘developing’ world – with a particular focus on
China and India).
In 2002, Jeanne-Marie received an OBE for her work on China-UK dialogue; she was
an early advisor to Leaders Quest and is now an LQ ambassador.
All Under Heaven
All Under Heaven: China’s dreams of order is the story of the biggest group of people
on earth – and how they came to think the way they do about the biggest question
of all time. The people are the Chinese. The question is what kind of order works best
for man and his world. Is it a ‘counterfeit paradise’ of a single top down mind ? Or is
it a ‘good hell’ of something a little more human: something that might look a little
more like chaos, but might actually have a more robust order ? Or, is it possible to
imagine something else ?
China has spent 5,000 years thinking about the question of order – a question which
remains central to the Chinese Communist Party today. Even as the West doggedly
tracks the technical intricacies of China’s economic reform (with an increasing
interest in foreign policy as China’s economics have gone global), every Chinese
leader and intellectual (not to mention its taxi drivers, workers and peasants) are
clear that China’s fundamental question is not economics, but order – order within
China, order across Greater China, order around the world. From this fundamental
focus, come all of the questions which the ‘West’ finds so challenging about China: a
Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech – as long as any voices agree with
the Party; an idea of the rule of law as better laws for ruling; a ‘deal’ which separates
the populations of the cities and the countryside; a Party principle which insists upon
the unquestioned unity of a nation of 5 different races, 56 recognised minorities, and
3 ‘autonomous regions’ which make up almost half of China’s territory; controversial
ideas of Asian borders which put it at odds with many of its 14 land (and 8 sea)
neighbours; the pursuit of open markets within bird cages; and the conviction that
the world is driven by the survival of the fittest States - populated by ‘high quality
people’. From this fundamental focus on order, also come questions of trust (and
mistrust), and about what democracy in the 21st century might mean – for states, for
business, and for people.
All Under Heaven cuts across the silos of politics, economics, business, history, beliefs,
and today’s headline news to enable readers to see the world through Chinese
minds. It enables readers to reconcile the confusing contradictions which have made
‘understanding China’ an esoteric art – and in so doing, to step beyond binary
predictions of China’s future (up, down; richer, poorer; angrier, happier; together,
apart; in peace, or at war) and to look at China’s questions of order – past, present,
and future - through Chinese eyes. Concluding with a vision of how a single top
down mind might finally talk to the people on the ground, All Under Heaven enables
everyone to see a much bigger picture with some provoking thoughts for all of us.
All Under Heaven will be published in September 2015.