Despicable or pariah countries

Depressing world news

Watching international news is really bad for your mental health, it’s depressing. Many countries show their worst side. Can we rate some as “despicable or pariah countries”?
I made a quick compilation of media comments, most common opinions found from a Western perspective. Feel free to add a country or add *, or comment. All subject to individual opinions…
It’s not about the people, it’s about the regime.
Sadly the list could become longer. Looking at politics today one loses faith in people and certainly in politicians. Western countries are surely not role models. The U.S. has lost much of its shine as a beacon of (real) democracy.

A draft list

It would be interesting if a reputable survey company could do its own poll… Or was it done already? See here an tentative list, in alphabetical order.

  • Afghanistan
  • Belarus
  • China *
  • Cuba *
  • Ghana #
  • Iran
  • Iraq #
  • Israel *
  • Myanmar
  • North Korea
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sudan *
  • Somalia
  • Syria
  • Uganda #
  • Venezuela *
  • Yemen

* opinions differ
# LGBT issues mostly

Example: many vilify China but I live here since decades and the truth is pretty complex.
Other countries like Iran and Afghanistan leave little doubt. They went back to the dark Middle Ages.


In a recent poll, most people chose religion as the root cause for conflicts and suffering.
Not all studies support that, see here.
But many of the terrible conflicts do have their root in religion.

Yes I am an atheist…


With the war in Gaza, we see people coming out to protest because of the civilian casualties. I can only say it’s more complicated than those protesters shout about.
There have been so many atrocities in very recent decades, I just give one “small” example.

The Yazidi genocide was perpetrated by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria between 2014 and 2017. It was characterized by massacres, genocidal rape, and forced conversions to Islam. Over a period of three years, IS militants trafficked thousands of Yazidi women and girls and killed thousands of Yazidi men. The United Nations reported that IS killed about 5,000 Yazidis and trafficked about 10,800 Yazidi women and girls in a “forced conversion campaign”. By 2015, upwards of 71% of the global Yazidi population was displaced by the genocide.

Some details:
10 May 2017 – Nearly 10,000 Yazidis killed, kidnapped by Islamic State in 2014, study finds – By Lin Taylor REUTERS
At least 9,900 of Iraq’s Yazidis were killed or kidnapped in just days in an IS attack in 2014, according to the first study to document the number of Yazidis affected which could be used as evidence in any trial for genocide.
About 3,100 Yazidis were killed – with more than half shot, beheaded or burned alive – and about 6,800 kidnapped to become sex slaves or fighters, according to the report.

Also this extensive description: “ISIS genocide of Yezidis and Christians

Who came out on the street in London, Brussels, Paris, … to stop the horrible killings? And shout “Free Yazidis”?
And there is also Syria, Sudan (More than 14,000 people dead, more than 8 million people displaced, yet Sudan is rarely mentioned in our media headlines),… a long list.

Old China Hands lunch 7 June 2024

Good attendance

Despite the heavy rain the Old China Hands lunch 7 June 2024 scored a total of 34 attendants, old friends and new faces. As usual lively chat over good food.

See here the impressive menu, see most of the dishes in the pictures:

  • Russian egg salad OR salad Niçoise OR fresh daily soup
  • pork piccata Provencal style served with grilled tomato and pan fried potatoes OR thin sliced beef tenderloin with wine merchant sauce served with market vegetables and Belgian frites OR pan fried snapper with mustard sauce served with daily vegetables and mashed potatoes
  • daily dessert

Included: one drink and coffee or tea.

Focus of the month

The focus is this time the incredible performance of the Morel team during the Official Opening of the New Belgian Embassy on 1 June.
The team: Renaat, me, Gordon, Miriam, Corinne and Sophie.

From 1 pm till late night we served Belgian fries in the afternoon to some 2,000 people and Belgian fries with Belgian Beef Stew and Pork Meat Balls in the evening to some 500 people.
We served 2,500 people using 252 Kg of fries, many liters of ketchup, mayonnaise and sauce andalouse. That makes like 100 g of fries per portion.
Sauce andalouse is a Belgian condiment commonly served with Belgian fries. The sauce is also popular and widely used throughout France and Luxembourg. It consists of mayonnaise, tomato paste, and peppers, such as pimientos or roasted bell peppers.

We were exhausted but it was a great and successful experience. Our team while small was extremely efficient!

Belgian Beer in Beijing is updated

Updated list and pics

My Page of Belgian Beer in Beijing is updated, more pics and the list now counts 220 different beer bottles.

Morel’s Restaurant and Café

We can say that Morel’s is our “stamcafé” in Beijing. Besides having great food it is also the place for friends to meet, chat and drink.
“Stamcafé” can be translated as “favorite bar or pub / habitual hound” and “Stammtisch” in German.
Elke Vlaming zou verplicht een stamcafé moeten hebben”: “Each Flemish person should forcibly have a stamcafé”

An interesting article about our beer culture: “5 September 2018 – Beer-mad Belgium moves to save historic drinking dens” – China Daily.
“Belgians are famous for taking their beer seriously, but authorities are now moving to preserve some of the historic cafes where drinkers have been quaffing since the early 20th century.
In the heart of the village of Alsemberg, in the Dutch-speaking Flemish Brabant region, south of Brussels, the PastaCafe is one of those that has best kept its 1920s and 1930s decor.”

With my friend Renaat Morel we have been trying out Orval, Gouden Carolus and Westvleteren. And many more.

Sun Bingwen, Zhu De and Liu Ding

Statues near the river side

In a previous post I mentioned the history of Zhu De and Sun Bingwen. On 21 March 2024 a ceremony was held honoring the legacies of Sun Bingwen, Zhu De and Liu Ding. Two groups of statues are located on the river side at Nanxi City.

One location is with the statues of Zhu De and Sun Bingwen, the other is the statue of Liu Ding.
Sun Bin, as the granddaughter of Sun Bingwen and myself paid respect to the grandfather.
Liu Wenshi and Liu Wenshan, sons of Liu Ding the “military industry leader and united front hero” paid respect to their father.

The museums

We visted the Nanxi Museum and then the old residence of Zhu De in Nanxi.
Some of the pictures in the museum were donated by Sun Bin. Pictures feature Zhu De, Sun Bingwen. Sun Yang and Sun Weishi.

When we left the former residence, three young pioneers greeted Sun Bin, Liu Wenshi and Liu Wenshan.
Near the museum I spotted some interesting mural decorations…

Who is Liu Ding

Liu Ding (1902 – 1986) was a native of Nanxi, an older generation revolutionary activist of the Communist Party of China, a loyal communist fighter, and a famous military industrialist. He was an expert in the machinery industry, the founder and outstanding leader of my country’s military industry, and the first president of North China University. He is known as the dean of China’s military industry. In 1924, he joined the Communist Party of China after being introduced by Sun Bingwen and Zhu De. In 1924, he went to Germany for a work-study program and served as secretary of the Youth League branch in Germany. In 1926, he went to the Soviet Union for further study. Graduated from Moscow Oriental University in 1928. In 1929, he was transferred back to China and served as deputy section chief of the Second Section of the Special Section of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. He has been engaged in underground intelligence work for a long time and made great contributions in the Xi’an Incident.

In 1952, in order to prepare for the trial production of standardized weapons he established a number of basic research institutes to serve the ordnance industry. They are the earliest technological research institutions established in New China.
His background in Chinese can be found here.
See here a transcript of the information in Chinese with partial translation: LiuDing_bio

A forest with Taxus Chinensis

On 22 March 2024 we crossed the Yabgtze River and went up to a mountain to check on the culture of a special plant called Taxus Chinensis, also called Chinese Yew.
In our delegation some participants are interested in the plant, used to produce medicines for cancer treatment, including Paclitaxel and Taxifolin. It can also be used in many other ways and is protected under Chinese and international law. Currently, the species is suffering the consequences of its economic and scientific exploitation for the production of the aforementioned anticancer drugs.

See more here: Taxus chinensis

We had a lunch with very local food on the mountain top.

Nanxi industry and education

Impressive industry

As mentioned in the previous post, the visit to Nanxi City also included a tour to Nanxi industry and education facilities.
On 21 March 2024 we visited Nanxi Liquor, Huiji Food, Yibin Vocational and Technical College, Far East Copper Foil, and Sichuan Biomedical Medical Equipment Industrial Parc.

The overall impression was that all facilities we visited were very modern and advanced, clean and highly automated.
The Nanxi Liquor is actually where the original Wuliangye started. The compound is immense but counts well below 1,000 workers. We had a sip of the freshly distilled liquor, pretty strong. The facilities have huge warehouses where the liquor is stored and aged.

From friends we later received many bottles of baijiu, 30 years old and alcohol 61%.
Huji Food makes all kinds of snacks, many with tofu.
The compound of Yibin Vocational and Technical College is simply huge and can accommodate some 20,000 students is very modern buildings.
The Far East Copper Foil factory is simply immense, see just one of the many buildings. They make copper and aluminum foil of different thickness, used in many industries, in particular for batteries. Highly automated.
The Sichuan Biomedical Medical Equipment Industrial Park is brand new and waiting for tenants to move in.

Yangtze River lunch

We had lunch near the First Bay of the Yangtze River.

There is a charming park along the river, we visited in a golf cart. No other vehicles allowed.
The road is used for running competitions, including a marathon.
In the next post, more about the events related to Sun Bingwen en Zhu De.