Karen Christensen at Beijing Book Fair 2017Update: We were not selected for the trade mission, but are grateful for all the encouragement, and for the many questions (including, “Are you out of your mind?”). It was useful to prepare the full application, which made me think about our work in China, and about the importance of showing how small businesses, based in rural areas, can and should be tackling business opportunities in China. KC 19 October 2017. A Reuters story suggests that Berkshire Oil & Gas would have had more chance: energy, not tech or finance, companies are going on the trip: click here to read.

Yesterday morning I read in the Sinocism newsletter that the Commerce Department is looking for applicants to join the trade mission around President Trump’s November trip to China. Editor Bill Bishop added, “I am hearing that there is less CEO enthusiasm to join this trip than in previous years given CEO worries about being too closely associated with President Trump.” My immediate thought was, “Well, I’d go.”

As you know, Berkshire Publishing isn’t GE or Caterpillar or Boeing. I’m not a typical business person or even a typical publisher. But I realized that I would be happy to go on the November trade mission, Trump or not. I would add a different perspective, I said to myself, as a woman and small-business owner. I have lots of relevant experience. US-China business relations are vital, and I’m in the thick of them every day (you should see my WeChat app at 5am!). So I went to the link at the Department of Commerce and submitted my application. (You can read the text of it below.)

Karen in 2006I figure that my application will get a least a glance because they’ll first assume that Berkshire Publishing is connected with Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. But this is a long shot, and I need your support. You can help by signing an online petition we set up on the system we’ve used for our very successful Train Campaign petition. Click here to see and add your name and, if you like, a comment. The text of the petition also appears below. Each time the petition is signed an email will go to the Office of Business Liaison at the Commerce Department (businessliaison@doc.gov).

Sign the Petition

Petition to include Karen Christensen in US Trade Mission to China

Karen speaking in TaiwanI urge you to include Karen Christensen, founder and CEO of Berkshire Publishing Group, in the US Commerce Department’s trade mission to China. Karen is open minded, future focused, and technology savvy, and has the best interests of the United States at heart. Her knowledge and networks are wide. Her grasp of US business interests comes from a childhood in the Midwest, teen years in the Silicon Valley, education in the public university system of California, and a professional life that spans the globe. Her current ventures in China provide a superb foundation for future initiatives in media, education, and technology, and her work can help other US companies and business leaders across the US. Her recent activities as head of the Train Campaign grounds her in infrastructure issues, and her activities as a business leader in rural Massachusetts have given her a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges for US business in the 21st century. Karen will represent small business owners and women leaders in business. Please ensure that Karen Christensen’s voice and vision are part of the US mission to China in 2017. Click here to sign.

I’ll be very grateful indeed if you can help by signing the petition or by writing directly to Secretary Wilbur Ross, who is apparently in China right now making arrangements for the November trip (Office of Business Liaison at the Commerce Department, businessliaison@doc.gov). Why, after all, should the multinational companies have all the fun?

With warm thanks,

Karen CHRISTENSEN, CEO & Publisher
Berkshire Blog: www.berkshirepublishing.com/blog

Sign the Petition

Application for the U.S. Department of Commerce Trade Mission to China 2017

Karen Christensen, CEO, Berkshire Publishing Group LLC

How would you best describe your business? Please select all that apply:


8(a) certified


Please describe your company’s industry sector(s) that you seek to represent/promote on the mission.

Berkshire has launched one of one of the largest publishing initiatives to be undertaken by a US and Chinese partnership. In December 2016, Berkshire signed an agreement with Encyclopedia of China Publishing House (ECPH), a member of the China Publishing Group, to produce an international version of ECPH’s monumental Encyclopedia of China. The joint project is being developed in parallel with the second edition of Berkshire’s own Encyclopedia of China.

Do you currently have a major project/transaction in China?


If yes, please describe and include in your answer the following information: status of project/transaction or current stage of bid process, and expected interim and final decision date(s).

Berkshire Publishing specializes in print and online resources for global audiences. In 2001, CEO Karen Christensen made her first trip to China to do research for the Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, which she was developing for Charles Scribner’s Sons. In the years since, Berkshire Publishing has become known for its expertise on and active business relationships with China. Major publications include the award-winning Berkshire Encyclopedia of China and the ground-breaking Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography. Berkshire has partnered with many of the world’s leading reference and academic publishers, including Macmillan, Scribner, Routledge, Sage, and Cengage, and its publications are available digitally at Oxford Reference.

CEO Christensen was elected to the board of the Content Division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)and to the National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR). She frequently speaks and writes about publishing technology, intellectual property and copyright, and the book and ebook industry, and serves as a trustee for the University of Pennsylvania Press. She spoke at the Digital Publishing Forum at the Beijing International Book Fair in 2017, and at a similar event in Taiwan in 2013.

Berkshire has more reference works in Chinese than almost any other English-language publisher. Berkshire’s educational books as well as major reference titles, including the 10-volume Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability, have been translated into Chinese. Berkshire provides consulting and distribution services to major Chinese presses, including the Encyclopedia of China Publishing House, the Guangdong People’s Publishing House, and works with CITIC Press. Berkshire has also launched one of one of the largest publishing initiatives to be undertaken by a US and Chinese partnership. In December 2016, Berkshire signed an agreement with Encyclopedia of China Publishing House (ECPH), a member of the China Publishing Group, to produce an international version of ECPH’s monumental Encyclopedia of China. The joint project is being developed in parallel with the second edition of Berkshire’s own Encyclopedia of China.

Please describe any specific export or policy issues that you would like to discuss during the sessions with the Chinese government and industry sessions.

Intellectual property rights, censorship, Chinese-language learning, and educational exchange and learning opportunities.

Provide a brief description of how your participation is consistent with the goals/objectives of this mission, as set forth in the mission statement.

Improving US competitiveness requires knowledge and nuanced understanding of China and Chinese culture. Berkshire has a two-fold mission: to develop its own and its partners’ initiatives in the information industry and education, and to encourage cooperative training and education in other industries.

In one or two sentences, how you would define success from your participation on this mission?

New initiatives will be put into place to build skills and increase knowledge among professionals as well as students at all levels, in order to make US companies and individuals more competitive and successful in China and around the globe.