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On April 2, 2019, I found myself on stage in Zurich following the invitation of Switzerland’s “Asia Society”*, co-creating a (at least to me) very new exchange format: The Long Conversation” (and as you can see from the video, it is indeed pretty long, but due its diverting character far less boring than many normal panel discussions…).

The idea: There are only two panelists on stage at a time. First, one of them interviews the other, afterwards the other the one. When these two interview sessions are over, the first interviewer leaves the stage, and the remaining panelist in return becomes the moderator, interviewing yet another expert entering the stage. And so on in goes until all panelists played their part, as interviewer and interviewee.

The result: An entertaining and indeed diverting exchange format fostering many different perspectives and insights for the audience. And for the panelists on stage it was a little more challenging than normal, as you didn’t only have to prepare answers for yourself about stuff you know pretty well anyway, but also needed to gain insights into the topics and expertise another panelist should and wanted to talk about – and thereby be able to ask him qualified questions. To me, this was a very exciting experience and highly insightful.

The topic: This special long conversation was about the pros and cons, backs and forths, Oohs and Aahs of China’s Belt and Road Initiative – at a moment in time when this initiative of the century was not only in full swing and also reaching out for seemingly small and far-away places such as Switzerland. And shortly before Swiss President Ueli Maurer signed a Memorandum of Understanding on BRI with China’s Xi Xinping. So a just-in-time discussion.

Watch my special conversation with Synolitic’s Markus Herrmann and Theresa Fallon from the Centre for Russia Europe Asia Studies (who was then followed by Bruno Maçães, former Portuguese foreign minister) right here:

*Asia Society is the leading global and pan-Asian organization working to strengthen relationships and promote understanding among the people, leaders, and institutions of the United States and Asia. We seek to increase knowledge and enhance dialogue, encourage creative expression, and generate new ideas across the fields of arts and culture, policy and business, and education. Founded in 1956, Asia Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution with offices in Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, and Washington, DC