Yes, You Too Can “Win in China”: An Interview with Filmmaker Ole Schell

Research output: Other contribution


There has understandably been no shortage of commentary on China’s rapid economic development. Much like Japan’s economic “miracle” of the last century, this other industrialization in East Asia has generated considerable discussion, both in academia and popular media. No doubt, much of the discussion rests on a healthy crop of skepticism regarding the actual sustainability of China’s growth. However, though export growth has slowed since the boom apex in 2007, the country’s economy is nonetheless continuing to grow and many observers maintain that China is surviving the global recession better than any other major economy.

But as both domestic and foreign observers continue to watch China’s economic growth, it follows that we should want to know more about the individuals behind it, the entrepreneurial cogs in the increasingly battery-powered wheel. In Shanghai, China Beat contributor Anna Greenspan called the city’s street vendors “the most entrepreneurial and creative sector of society.” One way to see how the average person—a Shanghai street vendor perhaps—views the growth is to take a look at what they watch on TV when they go home at night.

Back in 2007, in an entertaining piece, James Fallows reported on the Chinese game show “Ying Zai Zhongguo,” or “Win in China.” The TV show has immense popularity in China, generating ratings that make the Super Bowl seem like a city council meeting on your local public access channel. On his blog, Alec Ash spoke with one of the show’s fans.

The premise will be familiar to American reality TV fans: entrepreneur saplings compete for prize money put up by some of China’s most successful entrepreneurs-turned-venture-capitalists, who also serve as the show’s panel of judges. Promoting your business plan, displaying business acumen that would thrill any MBA student, exposing your competitor’s lack of experience and undermining their qualifications are all keys to winning a chunk of the prize money, which totals over USD $5 million.

Filmmaker Ole Schell, son of renowned Sinologist Orville Schell, has profiled the show in a new documentary, also called “Win in China.” The filmmaker recently posted a great piece at CNN’s AC360 blog, where he describes meeting up with one of “Win’s” successful contestants, now putting his prize money to use with a lingerie business. Here, Ole Schell talks with us about the film.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - Oct 15 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese Studies
  • Economics

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