When Tessa Keswick first visited China in 1982, working for an investment company looking for opportunities in the newly open country, business meetings were dispiriting affairs. “Everyone was wearing cloth caps and sitting there like this,” she says, hunching her body. “They were all complete Communists and everything was dark and miserable.”

Yet returning in 1997, with her husband, Henry Keswick — then chairman of Jardine Matheson, the Hong Kong-based conglomerate that was built on the lucrative opium trade and today has $64 billion of assets, including the Mandarin Oriental hotel group — the situation was transformed.

Start your free trial to read the full story

Subscribe to Air Mail to access every article
and search our entire Arts Intel Report.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here.