James Chau
Television Presenter


James Chau is a main presenter on CCTV News, bringing stories and ideas to 85 million viewers, and a guest presenter on BBC World News, reporting on emerging innovations in business and science on the award-winning show, Horizons. He has interviewed Nobel laureates Muhammad Yunus, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, and Aung Sang Suu Kyi in her first public engagement with China since her release.

Weeks before the death of President Nelson Mandela in December 2013, he spoke exclusively with Winnie Mandela, whose longtime activism helped end the apartheid regime in South Africa. The interview was filmed in the Johannesburg house where Nelson Mandela lived on his release from prison, and where he wrote his acclaimed biography, Long Walk to Freedom.

In 2009, he became a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, the first person in China to be appointed to this role. Together with his fellow activists, Annie Lennox, Sir Elton John and HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, he has showcased their journeys in AIDS in a series of television specials. In addition, he leverages social media on Sino Weibo where he has 1.7 million followers.

In other areas of media, he is currently writing his first book. He will also feature in two new documentaries: a fashion showcase on the iconic American jewelers, Tiffany & Co., as well Kids-R, a film on children’s rights featuring the singer-songwriter, Sir Elton John.

He studied at Cambridge University and lives in Beijing.

March 14, 2014


A bit about art and me


Art is important in my life, because… It has created new friendships, and of those friendships that pre-existed, it has built another bond. I studied piano at the Royal Academy of Music, and in a similar way now in adulthood, I understand how art ties together individuals, and groups of individuals, who want to live their best life -- in the most beautiful, yet meaningful ways.

Art goes best with… thought.

Three words that best describe art according to you... Off the top of my head? Historical, innovation, and current affairs.

An art exhibition you have enjoyed recently... My great friend, Jehanne de Biolley, curated a collection in November of etchings and paintings by Celia Lyttelton.

Best city to go to for art... Mexico City. If you're going to sit in traffic, you can do so beneath the pure sun on Reforma. Here, the outside fences of the Bosque de Chapultepec are adorned by a rotating art exhibition. And if you walk, one idea is to head to the Foreign Ministry: a working yet also living space, designed by Ricardo Legoretta. I was there to interview G20 Sherpa, Lourdes Aranda, who afterwards steered me towards the very little-known but brilliant Foreign Ministry Museum on the República de El Salvador.

Your favourite museum in the world... May I propose three? The Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris, the Courtauld Institute in London, and the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

The artist you would like to have lunch with... The calligrapher and my ancestor, Liu Gongquan.

If you were an artist, who would you like to be... U
nfortunately, I don't possess that talent.


An artwork you’d like to have in your room... I am looking at two of them now: a picture by Ruth Krefting, and a piece by Yosof Gajah. But if I could dream (and we should all dream), I would choose Cuban Sugar (Li Songsong), Hero's Return (Li Qing), and after seeing an image on Sandra Nedvetskaia's Instagram, a wood and parchment armoire (Jacques Adnet).

Chinese contemporary art for you is… China, the Chinese, and all the thoughts and ideas that evolve from a nation, and its people.


Something I would like to share

For me, art is personal.

The first painting I bought was an elephant by Yusuf Gajah ('gajah' means elephant in Malay) during a reporting assignment to Kuala Lumpur on SARS.


I have two paintings at home from the collection of the Shaanxi History Museum that was given to me by my father. They are a beautiful way for me to remember my father.

I have two godsons: Oliver and Casimir.

I am giving Casimir a pen drawing that Takashi Murakami gave me.

Casimir doesn't read Artshare.com (he is a year old).

I have one of a pair of iron tribal necklaces from Chad.

The other half is with Winnie Mandela in Johannesburg.

I have one of a pair of Qing saucers.

The other half is with Mario Testino in London.

My favorite memory is sitting with my parents on the plane in 2012.

My other favorite memory is running on a beach with the most beautiful children at a slum in Chennai, India.

I now believe that while beautiful memories are yet to be made, sometimes we need to pause. Think about something that has happened before. And smile.

Facts

I auditioned for the role of the boy emperor for Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor.

I didn't get it.

I first appeared on television when I was nine or ten years old.

That was a long time ago.

My favorite performance of my favorite piano concerto is Tatiana Nikolayeva playing Shostakovich No. 2 at the Last Night of the Proms in 1992.


I am looking at my lemon tree while I type this out on my iPhone.

I am also listening to Kenny G while on hold for Air China's customer service.

I'm not a great fan of Kenny G.

But one day I predict we will appreciate his hair.


I believe in love.

I believe that education without equal access to opportunity is a principal driver of youth discontent in the Middle East and North Africa.

I am most comfortable sitting in a studio, feeling warm under a light, and talking to a piece of glass that is about two meters in front of me.

I have friends called Ina, Bernhard and Julia.

Someone called Maxim has just emailed me.

I trust Mum, Kevin and Laura with my life.


I used to believe that the next-best-thing was around the corner.

I think graciousness is the most attractive quality in a person.

I think to be a servant to humanity is the most noble opportunity in life.

I love Ming.

I believe that a world with AIDS continues to teach critical lessons, which we can apply to broader fronts.

I believe that a world without AIDS is still possible.

I know that kindness is key.

I began posting on Instagram last year to freeze the happier moments in an unhappy year.

I miss my father.


I am honored that my father is being remembered through The John C.B. Chau Prize in Engineering, that has just been established at Cambridge University.

I have many cousins, and I love a lot of them.

I have a four character Chinese name.

I sometimes use my granny's Indonesian surname.

I don't think you can guess what it is.

I read mostly non-fiction, but two novels I am reading are Our Man in China by Ming Liu, and The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto.

Please join Lily Cole's new social network, www.impossible.com. It's all about giving.

I am trying to follow the spirit of Arianna Huffington's Third Metric, by unplugging my phone at night, keeping it off my bed, and allowing myself to recharge and renew for the next day.

I am writing my first book.


I am grateful if you have continued to read this far down.

I hope it has made you smile.

I don't know how to fly.

(But wouldn't to be funny, if we could?)

I think this is all very random.

I am going to stop.

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