John Holden

China Business, PR & Education

General Information

Any time


A leading expert on China with over three decades experience in business, track II diplomacy, consulting and education, John L.Holden is Associate Dean of the Yenching Academy, a center for theinterdisciplinary study of China at Peking University that provides fullfellowships for top college graduates from around the globe. He is also Professorof Management Practice at the Guanghua School of Management at PekingUniversity, where his teaching focuses on business ethics, corporate socialresponsibility, and communications.

Holden isNonresident Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,and Senior Adviser to Vermilion Partners. Until recently he was the Beijing-based Senior Counselor and ManagingDirector of Hill & Knowlton. Previously he was Chairman of Shaklee (China)Ltd., a wholly‐owned subsidiary of Shaklee Corporation that he established inBeijing in 2005.

From 1998to 2005 Holden was President of the New York-based National Committee on UnitedStates‐China Relations, where he initiated a number of the Committee’s flagshipprograms, including the Public Intellectuals Program (PIP); the Young LeadersForum; the U.S. Foreign Policy Colloquium; and the Student Leaders Exchange.

Previously,Holden was Chairman and General Manager of the China holding company ofCargill, Inc., where he was employed from 1986 to 1998. At this Americanagribusiness firm he had responsibility for establishing its China operations,which grew to include oilseed crushing, animal feed, hybrid seed, fertilizer,malt, financial services and commodity trading businesses. He also served asthe manager of Cargill’s energy futures brokerage in Geneva, Switzerland.

Holden has been active in the American Chambers of Commerce in both Hong Kong and Beijing,and served as chairman of the board of governors of the latter organization in1997. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of theNational Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and serves as advisor to a numberof not-for-profit organizations.

After completinga B.A. magna cum laude in ChineseLanguage and Literature at the University of Minnesota, Holden received a the same subject from Stanford University, where he completed allrequirements, except the dissertation, for a Ph.D. focusing on classicalChinese literature. He spent two years studying Chinese in Taiwan in the1970’s, has lived and worked in Hong Kong for seven years, and has lived andworked in Beijing in four stints since 1980 for a total of 17 years; he firsttraveled to the People’s Republic of China in 1974. Mr. Holden speaks fluentMandarin Chinese, reads and writes Chinese, and has good conversational Frenchand some rusty Japanese. He is married and has two adult daughters.