Welcome to my home page. Most of what I do is in Danish: articles, radio reports, books as well as commentaries on Asian affairs. Also I lecture, moderate conferences and teach international journalism, human rights and the media, openness and access to information etc. – in both Danish and English.
See below for selected articles in English. Read the full article by hitting the pink title.
Much of my work focuses on Asia: China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia and Burma in particular, and also as a sort of common denominator of most of these countries, The Mekong River – Mother of Waters. My subjects are many; mainly human interest from the perspective of politics, culture and human rights.
Further below you will find my CV, books in English etc.
Decades of strict birth control in China is being eased. Too many elderly and too few younger people to support them means that after four decades of the contrary, young Chinese will soon be encouraged to have children – perhaps even out of wedlock, which has so far been both forbidden and punishable.
This article is a translation of one I wrote in Danish. In it I analyse the what China’s 14th Five-Year Plan means for birth and population control. The Danish version was published in POV International in early November, 2020
Excerpts from my Beijing Diary from 1989, which was published again 25 years later with the original diary along with my analysis of what had happened in the meantime, and what the activists of 1989 actually achieved with their massive challenge to the Communist Party of China.
I use my Beijing Diary from 1989 to trace developments from then on to China in 2014. This is not a history book, of which many have been written in the meantime, some of them even by me. I have woven new material into my original diary in order to give perspective. The result is my personal account and assessment of the 25 years that followed in the wake of the uprising in Beijing. In the beginning of each chapter the year in which it was written is stated.
I am delighted to have translated this encouraging anniversary publication form Glad Foundation. What these people have achieved over the past two decades is remarkable and hugely commendable.
You may be interested in my conversation with Dalai Lama on climate change, environment and – of course – Tibet from 2015. You can watch it here
Adapted version of my presentation at the European Council on Foreign Relations’ Conference in Warsaw, drawing on experiences from the Arab Spring and Asia
30 January 2018, Warsaw
A silent, dust-covered Beijing greeted us – four exchange students from Denmark – as the train softly came to a stop at Beijing’s Central Railway Station one mild Indian summer day in September 1981 after an eight-day train journey with the Trans-Siberian railway from Copenhagen Central Station.
Contribution (in Danish) to photo publication by Niels Bjørn on China’s Mega Cities, Livet i Kinas kæmpebyer, 2016.
Faces without contours spewing out donkey heads, their stodgy lives literally making them puke. Portable, collapsible metropolitan cities made of textiles. Paintings, installations, pottery, textiles, parachutes. A mammoth tiger skin made of thousands of cigarettes. Original and insistent springing from millennial Chinese traditions, the present and, sometimes, the future …
Essay from Museum of Modern Art in Århus, Denmark, ARoS’ catalogue for the magnificent exhibition A New Dynasty, 20015-20016
When I saw a photo the other day in one of my Danish newspapers of a man on an overpass, literally spitting on Syrian refugees walking below, just off the ferry in Denmark, I felt acute pain and deep shame. Because this is not my country – or it isn’t what I believe my country is and ought to be.
Blog post from my stint as Incidental New Yorker 9 September, 2009.
I was deeply honoured and delighted when Mongolia’s president Elbegdorj bestowed upon me Mongolia’s Medal of Friendship “in recognition of valuable contribution in the promotion of friendly relations and cooperation between Mongolia and the Kingdom of Denmark.” The ceremony took place in Asia House in Copenhagen with me attending from New York via skype on 15 October 2015
When foreign leaders bow to China’s irate demands that they do not meet with the Dalai Lama it is by no means out of respect. It is because China transforms into a thug, totally resistant to reason.
8 February 2015
At this point in history, a special art in China is to find or create a space in which to work and exist – outside the established spaces. Criticise, create, have fun, enjoy – beyond the censors’ comprehension, beyond their restrictions, sanctions and punishment.
KØS, Museum of art in public spaces, 15 March, 2014
🇬🇧 People’s Daily & Xinhua Shi go public – the contradiction between commercialism and socialist values
Chinese Communist Party media flagships are going public; what will the consequences be for content? And will China ever get round to legislate on the role of the media in society?
Interview with Zhao Yuezhi, professor of the political economy of global communication, February 2012
China is investing massive amounts of money, energy and prestige in creating a new impression of herself, internally as well as to the rest of the world. CCTV International tries to challenge al-Jazeera, BBC and CNN on global news coverage. The good old communist propaganda mill is developing into a sophisticated narrative through an almost unlimited variety of outlets, be it museums, history books, cinema, sports, business or – in particular – media. The state recently invested 45 billion yuan in the flagship media. What is China trying to get across? What are we meant to make of it all?
Conversation with professor Zhao Yuezhi, October 2011
The Tibetans and China have a lot to gain – and nothing to lose – by respecting the constitution and including Tibet, rather than seeking to eradicate Tibetan culture …
The air is hot and humid in Kompong Thom prison in Central Cambodia. The old walls are peeling. The prison was built by the French colonial power in 1900. Only one wing has been restored, thanks to aid from Australia. The prison is noted jokingly all over the country as the one with the ‘holes in the walls’ – the one from which escape is easy. A broad, rectangular hole (it is really only a slot) was built into the wall; this is where prisoners receive visitors, out in the open and under constant surveillance by the guards.
Article from Danish Institute for Human Right’s website on the radio programme that I started with Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia and help run for seven years
Being rich in China today is glorious; capitalists are members of the autocratic Communist Party. The number of dollar billionaires more than quintupled in less than a year. Economic gaps have become enormous, and only because they cannot afford the treatment, poor people die from diseases that could have been cured.
This article was printed in the investor magazine Fund News no. 1, 2008, published by Jyske Invest International
Books in English (& French)
Serving the World – Rosinante, 2017, with Mogens Lykketoft
After 15 months’ service at the UN, the couple give an introduction to the UN, its special action areas and point to the future and future challenges of international cooperation. Relevant not least in these times of Donald Trump. Also, they give an engaged and inspiring account of their work as President and ‘First Lady’ respectively of the UN 70th General Assembly.
La Chine – chemin faisant, Esprit Ouvert, 2008. Avec Mogens Lykketoft.
La Chine, le pays le plus peuplé du monde, est en plein essor économique, ayant des hautes visées pour le devenir l’une des nations les plus puissantes du globe dans les vingt ans à venir. Jamais pauvreté ne fut éliminée aussi rapidement pour se voir remplacée par un capitalisme d’une telle sauvagerie, Mais cette croissance a un prix : des conséquences catastrofique pour le milieu natural, une corruption scandaleuse et destructive, un peuple tenu dans l’ignorance par la censure. Esprit Ouvert
Openness and Access to Information – your key to public affairs, DIHR 2008
but thorough description of the right to access to information and the
concept of openness in governance. This book explains why openness is
important, and answers a whole slew of questions about who should have
access to information and how this human right can be exercised in
practice. I wrote it on the basis of its mother publication, Openness and Access to Information, published by DIHR and Local Government Denmark for educational purposes. Further info. Download for free in English or Arabic
Vision of my Life – Copenhagen, 2007
Photo documentation by 43 Copenhagen citizens armed with an instant camera and assigned with specific motifs; e.g. “my home,” “my friends,” “my family” and also more subjective topics: “something I wish for” and “something I don’t like” etc. Edited by Susanne Mathiesen and myself. A large selection of the photos was exhibited in Copenhagen City Hall. See the comprehensive catalogue in pdf here. Further info.
Mekong River – Mother of Waters, MRC 2003.
The Mekong River traverses most of “my” countries in Asia, China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam on its way from Tibet to the South China Sea; countries in which I have travelled and worked extensively. 70 million people along the river depends on it completely for survival. Some still live like did their ancestors in medieval times, others live off highly industrialised fishing. Each and everyone regards the river as sacred, and they know and respect its whims. I have travelled many different parts of The Mekong in several different vessels. This book – text as well as photos – is the result of these travels. Originally published in Danish in 2001. Acquire it here.
Mette Holm, born 1953
| ||Key qualifications|
Experienced writer and journalist as well as teacher of journalism and trainer with some 20 years in Print, Radio/TV, education and public information – in English as well as Danish. Mette Holm frequently comments on Asian affairs. Specialised in Asian affairs, with particular focus on humanitarian issues, human interest and political affairs, ranging from local politics to social and international affairs. She has worked extensively in China (incl. Taiwan), Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Mongolia and to a lesser extent in Japan, Malaysia, Thailand as well as Cuba, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Georgia and a number of other countries. She has taught various subjects at The Danish School of Journalism in Aarhus (in English) as well as Greenlands’ School of Journalism in Nuuk. She serves as external examinator at several of the Danish educational institutes of journalism and moderates conferences (mainly international; on Asian affairs or human rights issues such as combatting torture, access to information, human rights jurnalism in general etc.). She has written several educational and analytical books and has contributed to many others on Asian affairs. She is a frequent lecturer and speaker on Asian affairs and human rights. Associate Senior Fellow at NIAS, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies in Copenhagen. Fm Board member at Levende Menneskerettigheder/Human Rights in Action Open Fun Football Schools – CCPA, Cross Cultural Project Association.
|Free lance 1981-1988, 1997-2003, 2006- |
Reports, commentaries, essays & analyses on Chinese and other Asian affairs for several leading media in Denmark, print, radio and TV, as well as lectures, work shops, moderator at large conferences, talks on Asian subjects in various fora – businesses, universities, associations, schools, libraries etc. External examniator at journalists’ educations. Regular contributor to regional Swedish news paper Sydsvenskan. Print and radio journalism, teaching at the Danish School of Journalism in Aarhus (International News Gathering; in English) and Greenland’s School of Journalism. Nuuk, (radio journalism and international news); books for Danida and other publishers, as well as contributor to books on Asia and on human rights issues. Lecture in India on human rights journalism. Information officer for The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), Copenhagen (incl. attendance to 1999 session in Geneva of the UN Human Rights Commission). Travels extensively in Asia as well as the occasional trip to other countries, e.g. in Southern Africa. Received several Danida grants for working trips in Asia. Speech writing for Sectretary General at IRCT and executive director at DIHR
| Selected assignments|
2002-2007 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Consultant on radio project with Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia on the radio programme The Road to Law in Cambodia; Ms Holm developed and helped plan and further develop a weekly radio programme (in Khmer) to educate and inform on Cambodia’s legal system, international conventions to which the country is party, best practices in other countries, etc.
2000-1, Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia Extensive research for book on Mekong River for Danida as well as concultancy for Mekong River Commission (Phnom Penh); this trip included many meetings with high ranking officials as well as stays in remote villages along the river in several countries.
2008, China, Bhutan & Nepal, etc. Research for supplementary tra-vel guide on democratisation & human rights in 14 selected Asian countries.
2015-2016 at SIPA, Columbia University, NYC
Faculty advisor for students of international affairs and human rights at School of International and Public Affairs.
| Books and contributions to books in Danish (& French)|
Mongoliet – stemmer fra steppen (Mongolia – Voices from the Steppes). Frydenlund 2015
Dagbog fra Beijing – 25 år senere; hvor gik kineserne hen? (Diary from Beijing – 25 years later; where did it take the Chinese?). Gyldendal, 2014.
Burma Myanmar – fortællinger fra et land i forandring (Burma Myanmar – tales from a country in transition). With former Minister for Foreign Affairs Mogens Lykketoft, People’sPress 2012
Asien & menneskerettigheder – en vejviser (Asia and Human Rights – a Guide). Supplementary travelguide on democracy and human rights in 14 selected Asian countries. IMR & DUPS 2010
Openness and Access to Information – your key to public affairs – DIHR, 2008 Kina – kapitalisme med særlige kinesiske kendetegn (China – Capitalism with Chinese Charasteristics) 2nd ed. with former Minister for Foreign Affiairs Mogens Lykketoft, Gyldendal 2008.
La Chine – chemin faisant; French version of Kina – drager, with Mogens Lykketoft, Editions Esprit Ouvert, France, 2008.
Kina – drager (China) with former Minister of Foreign Affairs Mogens Lykketoft, Gyldendal, 2006.
Vietnam – et land i Asien (V – a country in Asia), Klematis, 2004
Finansiering af udvikling – Monterrey-konsensus (Financing for Development – Monterrey Consensus) with Lise Penter Madsen, Danida, 2002
Kina – fra Kejserdømme til Kapitalisme (China – from empire to Capitalism; history book for high school), Frydenlund, 2001. 2nd edition, 2014.
Mekongfloden – Vandenes Moder (Mekong River – Mother of Waters), Danida, 2001 (published in English by MRC 2003)
Vietnam – en politisk og økonomisk oversigt (V – a political and economic overview), Danida, 1998
Dagbog fra Beijing (Diary from Beijing), GEC GAD, 1989
Contributor to Tibetanske Hjerter (Tibetan Hearts), Aschehoug, 2001
Contributor to Vietnam i forandring (V in transition), Frydenlund, 1999
Contributor to Etik i Dansk Erhvervsliv (Ethics in Danish Business), J-P’s Erhvervsbogklub, 1998
Contributor to Breve fra Østblokken (Letters from the East Block), Thaning & Appel, 1990 – and many other publications on Asian affairs
|Education and training |
* Studies in Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, 1978-83.
* Chinese studies, Beijing Foreign Languages Institute, Beijing, PRC, 1981-82
* Diploma in Journalism, the Danish School of Journalism, 1987.
* Radio and TV production courses, Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR), 1988-1990.
* Several professional journalist courses ; i.a. in Japan, UN system (New York), Cuba, EU (Bruxelles, Strasbourg), Middle East (Istanbul, Damascus & the Lebanon) 1989-2003
* International Visitor (individual IVP) in USA, 2000.
* International human rights course at DIHR, Copenhagen, 2003.