Related Speakers Search

John Holden

Based in Beijing, China

  • Nonresident Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Co-founder and Director of The Square Circle Ltd.
  • Former Beijing-based Senior Counselor and Managing Director of Hill & Knowlton and former Chairman of Shaklee (China) Ltd.
  • Nonresident Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Co-founder and Director of The Square Circle Ltd.
  • Former Beijing-based Senior Counselor and Managing Director of Hill & Knowlton and former Chairman of Shaklee (China) Ltd.

John L. HOLDEN is Nonresident Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Co-founder and Director of The Square Circle Ltd., Senior Adviser to Vermilion Partners, and a presenter and moderator of CHINA Roundtable. Until recently Holden was the Beijing-based Senior Counselor and Managing Director of Hill & Knowlton, one of the world’s leading public relations firms, and the first to enter the Chinese market in 1984. Previously Holden was Chairman of Shaklee (China) Ltd., a wholly‐owned subsidiary of Shaklee Corporation that he established in Beijing in 2005.

From 1998 to 2005 Holden was President of the National Committee on United States‐China Relations. Previously, he was Chairman and General Manager of the China holding company of Cargill, Inc., where he was employed from 1986 to 1998. At this American agribusiness firm Holden was responsible 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 as the manager of Cargill’s energy futures brokerage in Geneva, Switzerland.

From 1980 to 1986, Holden served as general manager of Bank America World Trade Corporation’s PRC business; general manager of the Asia subsidiary of Alimenta S.A.; China trading manager of Unison International; and marketing manager of a translation company. He also served as interpreter for National Geographic teams researching the Yellow River and Tibet for six months in 1981.

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 in 1997. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations; the International Institute for Strategic Studies; the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations; the advisory board of the Forum for American‐Chinese Exchange at Stanford (FACES); and the United States Committee-Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. He also heads the international advisory committee of the Center for U.S.-China Relations at Tsinghua University.

Holden has appeared often in television, radio and print media in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan; and has been the subject of three 30-minute television specials in 2001, 2002 and 2008, a chapter in China Hands: People Who Influence White House Policy (2002; in Chinese), and a two-part article in The Mirror (Jing Bao). Other media appearances include CNN, BBC, CBS, The Charlie Rose Show, VOA, CCTV-2, CCTV-9, and Beijing Television. Holden has been a featured speaker at universities, including Harvard, Peking, Tsinghua, Renmin, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, Princeton, Chicago, Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, Pacific Lutheran and Minnesota; business conferences; civic groups; and other venues.

He has twenty-two years experience living in China; his first visit to the People’s Republic of China was in 1974.

  • Corporate and Business Strategy in China
  • China and it’s Macro-economic environment
  • What is China Going to Look Like in Five Years?
  • Success and Failures in China: What are the Risks?
  • How to interpret the new Xi-Li leadership’s mixed signals about political and economic reform?
  • The 2008-2009 credit binge and its aftermath.  Are NPLs a threat to the banks, or their owners?
  • What must Xi and Li absolutely get right?
  • What policies will the government institute to curtail industrial overcapacity and improve returns on investment?
  • Is there a looming demographic crisis?
  • How will China’s territorial disputes play out?
  • A new Sino-Soviet axis?
  • Prospects for U.S.-China relations.
  • Foreign investors – are they happy and does it matter?
  • The internet and its challenges to government and corporations in China.
  • How bad is the current slowdown?


“Thank you for delivering a fascinating and informative address to our members at the Museum of Arts and Design last week.  It was an honor to have you speak at our Holiday Forum.  I must share with you that many of our members who attended your presentation have since expressed to me that they enjoyed your remarks immensely, particularly because your presentation contained so many specific examples and facts, supporting  your views and the perspective you shared.  The personal experiences you shared having lived in China for so long were also especially valuable to this group.  Given the level of misunderstanding that is possible on behalf of investors who allocate capital to the region, I have no doubt that many of the institutions represented will make better-informed investment decisions as beneficiaries of your insights.”

“As I anticipate that the subject of China will continue to be an important one that we will include across our series of programming, I hope you will consider joining us again.”

Nancy Szigethy, Founder of NMC Management, Inc