|"Dashan" is the stage name of Mark Rowswell. Almost
unknown outside of mainland China, Dashan is arguably the most famous
foreigner in China. He has become a regular fixture on Chinese television and a cultural icon across the nation. Ask anyone in mainland China
-- 8 out of 10 will be able to tell you who Dashan is.
In short, Dashan is a westerner who speaks fluent Chinese and
has become a domestic celebrity in China. For the past 17 years
Dashan has been appearing on Chinese television to audiences as
large as 800 million viewers (and that's a conservative estimate).
Dashan first rose to fame performing xiangsheng, a traditional
form of Chinese comic dialogue, while attending Beijing University
in 1988. Dashan still makes appearances during the holiday season
to perform comedic skits, but more as a hobby than a profession.
In recent years Dashan has become better known for his educational
programs in both English and Chinese. Recent programs include
"Dashan's Adventures" and "Travel in Chinese".
Books, videos and CD-ROM's for both programs are sold in bookstores
across China. A series of "Uncle Dashan" children's
books are also available.
Dashan is one of the top freelance television hosts in China.
In high demand for programs with an international theme, Dashan
also hosts many live events for corporations, government agencies
and other organizations.
Dashan also appears in advertising campaigns and serves as a
public spokesperson for various commercial and non-profit interests,
both Chinese and international.
While many foreign nationals appear on television in China, none
have reached the celebrity status of a "household name"
like Dashan, nor do they work in such a broad range of fields.
Dashan is truly one of a kind.
When he's not working in China, Dashan lives quietly and anonymously
with his wife and two children in Toronto, Canada.
In 1998,the 20th anniversary of China's reform and opening, New
Weekly Magazine chose Dashan as one of the "Outstanding People
of the Past 20 Years";
In 1999, University of Toronto selected Dashan as one of
"100 Alumni Who Shaped the Century";
That same year, TIME Magazine selected Dashan as one of the
"Leaders for the 21st Century";
In 2004, Dashan was chosen as one of ten "Outstanding Youth
of Beijing". This marks the first time a foreign national
has received this award, one of the highest honours granted by
the Beijing authorities.