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Publisher savoring return to China

Updated: 2013-04-09 09:21
By Mei Jia ( China Daily)

Niels Thomas finds the capital no strange place while working in the Zhongguancun area of Beijing, where universities and the Chinese Academy of Sciences are located.

The 40-year-old editorial director of Springer's Beijing office has just extended his two-year stint in the capital.

Publisher savoring return to China

"That was kind of back to my roots, and my Chinese hometown," Thomas says.

"I convinced the headquarters it's better to have someone here to make decisions with the background of having been connected with China for nearly three decades," he says.

Thomas speaks Mandarin with no hint of a foreign accent, and he's at ease in daily life.

His mother was a German language teacher at Beijing Medical University (now part of Peking University) on an exchange project in the 1980s. Thomas vividly remembers the year he spent in Beijing as a teen in 1985.

Locals then were excited to meet a blond foreign boy, and he recalls "their desire to communicate but not being able to communicate".

"It was an intense experience, because Chinese curiosity in foreign things then, together with their hospitality, made it impossible for me to be just a normal boy, with all the attention on me," he recalls.

He remembers once when he arrived at Metro Line 2 to find that the conductor was checking on his whereabouts.

"It's impossible now for a metro conductor to remember a single person," he says, recalling that Beijing's Line 2 only ran halfway around today's ring road then.

Thomas says he felt happy to escape when he was about to leave China back then, just because adolescence was a hard time. But his interesting experiences left an impression of "how much China is longing to connect with the world".

So he's making it a personal mission to bring more Chinese thought to the world via publishing.

Thomas returned to Shandong province for a job in the 1990s. Today, his 4-year-old daughter is attending the same school that he did.

"I see how much the country is different, and also how many things remain the same," he says. "Like Beijing - it retains its identity, and hasn't compromised much to modernity like other cities do."

Publisher savoring return to China

Publisher savoring return to China

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