Beijing Rotary in June

Kempinski Hotel 1 June

Beijing Rotary in June started on 1 June with a lunch for members and potential members only, to discuss internal issues.
Rotary 2021-22 President Didier opened the meeting by welcoming the club guests and introduced his team of 2021-22. In presenting his vision and course of action, he first emphasized diversity as the guiding principle in growing the club membership. He further stressed Service as an integral part of the Rotary spirit and the driving force for achieving that spirit: Fellowship and Programs. To put them in order it is Fellowship, Service, and Engagement.

Didier also referred to the briefing he organized in his residence on 23 May (see the pics) for present and future board members and committee chairs.

Several of the directors and chairs briefed us about their activities.

Encuentro dinner 8 June

I have been a few times to Encuentro, the new place replacing Red Rose, see

The Rotary Club of Beijing has held several dinners there to the general satisfaction, see also this post:

Iris Bula, a friend of Rotary who attended several of our meetings is the new chef! She prepared for us an excellent buffet all included with wine, beers and other drinks. We had a large private room, very convenient.

Our speaker was John Sze Ming Khor, the President of the Shanghai Rotary Club Lujiazui who is on a visit to Beijing. He talked to us about the start of his Education company after being a volunteer teacher and exploring in particular the poor rural areas. He is the founder and CEO of KERU – Shanghai, a social enterprise that provides consulting services to companies in the social sector and offers educational experiences for ambitious student leaders.
He has an impressive background both professionally and for community service.
More about his company:

Rtn Piper thanked the speaker for his well-received talk.

Foundation Project Update – Hypospadias

From April 7th to 9th, the Rotary/Hebei Children’s medical van made the trips to Xingtai, Neiqiu, and Shahe counties, to provide free checkups to rural children, and training to the county doctors. This was the first such medical mission since the lockdown in Shijiazhuang late last year and the travel restrictions imposed after the lockdown. This Rotary/Hebei Children outreach program transports medical experts to the rural counties, from where to reach the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang often involves all day journeys and lost work and wages for the rural families.

With the medical mission resuming, the Shijiazhuang urology experts were able to examine and provide diagnosis to the rural children again. In recent months, 10 Hypospadias surgeries from the current grant have been performed. The pandemic has caused delays and sometimes stoppage to the grant surgeries.
About Hypospadias:

Exploring Encuentro replacing Red Rose

Again a change

On 4 April 2021 I went exploring Encuentro replacing Red Rose. It’s the new restaurant on Beijing Gongti Bei Lu, Encuentro, basically South American food. Just in front of the North Gate of Worker’s Stadium, in the small alleay. Our friend Rtn Jose had suggested it, the place had just opened on the location of a former Muslim restaurant, then followed by another restaurant, Red Rose, American cuisine.

I tried the ensalada de tofu (nice), the ropa vieja cubana (very good) and the picarones peruanos (can be improved). Rather soft opening without a full a la carte menu.

The former Red Rose Restaurant

Beijing is not a good place to run a restaurant. Sky-high rents, unreasonable landlords and annoying government “inspections” to make life miserable – often only targeting foreign restaurants: reason why restaurants open, go bust, other open, restart the cycle. Chinese restaurants generally less bothered. Inspectors always find a new reason to mess: need other electric plugs (the safety ones have the wrong color), the gas pipes should be moved and painted in a different color, the trash cans are not OK (while a few hundred meters away trash litters the street with stinking trash. (un)Welcome to Beijing.

See a visit to the former Red Rose Restaurant with friends, July 2019. The place was actually very nice, food at first so-so, later improved a lot and I started liking it. A pretty ugly kind of bulldog was always around to check us out, in a very friendly way. I guess it closed, victim of the virus economy.

I fail to understand why new tenants always must break down everything and remodel. Like in this case, there was nothing wrong with the design. Screw the environment! (see my book Toxic Capitalism).

Rotary Beijing discussed mental health

Kempinski Hotel 18 May 2021

Rotary Beijing discussed mental health during their lunch thanks to Enoch Li.
Enoch was our very interesting speaker on the topic of Mental Health, now gaining a lot of attention by Rotary International and the Chinese government. This is a much misunderstood subject. Enoch corrected the wrong understanding of mental issues, illustrated the growing awareness of this medical condition and explained how we can address it correctly.

Enoch is a former member of our Club. Some ten years ago she left as she was going through a personal tough time. Previously she was a successful expat with HSBC, in London, Paris, Tokyo, and Beijing. Originally holding a Master in Law, she furthered her studies in INSEAD and Institutes in the field of Social Systems, Play Therapy and Small Group Training. She has been featured on many international media and is a regular public speaker.
In her talk she looked back at her studies, her successful career and how she was suddenly overwhelmed with depression, as recorded in her book “Stress in the City”.

See here Enoch taking the floor in the British Chamber of Commerce in Beijing.
More about her work:

Enoch Li: “Stress In The City”

I bought her book and I was very impressed.

See here my book review:

Beijing Rotary in March

Wine Tasting Party

Beside our regular meetings, Beijing Rotary in March had an exciting party in ROOTS on 23rd of March.
Cassidy, one of the only five Wine Masters in China gave us an introduction on new world versus old world wines.
To make the concept real he brought a Pinot Noir from New Zealand (cheaper and screw cork) and another one from France (more expensive and real cork) and explained the intricacies of each type of wine and wine processing; key aspects are acidity, transparency, alcohol content, body, hint of earth, hint of oak, hint of berries, tannin content and aroma.

Cassidy also gave a historical overview on how “Wine Masters” are selected and appointed worldwide and how they have to pass theoretical exams along with rigorous tasting tests.
We received two nice wine glasses marked I and II to taste (blindly) the two Pinot Noir wines and to give our opinion.

Good attendance, with members of the Rotary Club of Beijing and Rotary Club of Beijing East, along with visiting Rotarians and guests. It was a fantastic fellowship, a delicious dinner, high quality wine tasting. Zeyu Zhu, a cellist from the Juilliard School (New York famous school) entertained us with a nice classical music.

Kempinski 30 March 2021

Acting President Didier chaired the meeting and gave an update on the upcoming events of the club.
Our latest member was inducted, Kevin Gouldmann. He received his certificate and pin from Didier.

Kevin was also the speaker of the day, to tell us about his unusual profession as a “Klavierbaumeister” (master piano maker).
Kevin studied piano and music in USA but left for Germany when 21 because he felt he was not good enough to play piano. Instead of playing the piano he later chose the guitar instead.

What makes a good piano? Design, choice of materials and workmanship are the key factors. He learned the different aspects to achieve the right result, first as an apprentice in Berlin for over two years. He then moved to Hildesheim, for several years. Later he followed the complete Ludwigsburg Master Program as a master piano maker. He graduated successfully after a second tough exam.

He worked in a piano factory until he was recruited by a Danish company where he became owner and partner. Later he moved again to Germany and then to China. In China he is one of the only three master piano makers. He is still active with manufacturers in Europe and also did a stint in Abuja (Nigeria), where he lived colorful experiences.
He explained some of the key issues in making a good piano and also explained the different piano types.
He had to field many questions from the audience.

Gilbert let our visitor Sarah Wagner announce the publication of her book “Unleash Today”, that came out exactly on this day in all the major Amazon shops. We look forward for Sarah to give us a talk about her book that she wrote together with Kate Surala.

I already bought the Kindle version!

Belgium’s First Fingerprint e-ID abroad

Gilbert as a test case

On 31 May 2021 I took part in the Belgium’s First Fingerprint e-ID abroad, in our Belgian Embassy in Beijing. With the time zones Beijing was a favorite location to try the new administrative procedure when it was launched worldwide, as the first in line. As I understand, not that simple as the data of the scans – picture, fingerprints, signature – must be uploaded to the system in Brussels and the whole process was not tested before.
See the official post:
Belgium’s First Fingerprint e-ID Abroad!
31 May 2021

If you have trouble opening the link, see here the PDF version: 210531 firstIDcard
I was gladly the test case. Overall it went very well, it was fun. The only hassle is to make the electronic signature, the machine is a nightmare as you don’t see what you are doing. I had to repeat more than a dozen times and settle for the less bad result.

See how the old ID card looked like, and the fingerprint process.
Next step is waiting for the new ID to arrive and to activate here the chip. In the past it could not be done in the embassy and I had to do it in Belgium during a visit.

My eID reader

My eID reader

I use the eID with this eID reader to have access to the retirement website in Brussels.

A European mess

There is still no European standard to have secure access to government or banking websites, accepted and used by the member states.
For ING Belgium I use a ING card reader. Every country has its own system, in Belgium it is called CSAM. In Belgium there are other options such as
About itsme:

“itsme” was approved in Belgium in January 2018 and the button itsme is visible on CSAM. ING Belgium also allows itsme. In December 2019 itsme was approved by the EU. However France imposes France Connect registration that cannot be used by people like me and does not follow EU standards. A real headache. It does not follow “eIDAS”.
eIDAS oversees electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the European Union’s internal market. It regulates electronic signatures, electronic transactions, involved bodies, and their embedding processes to provide a safe way for users to conduct business online like electronic funds transfer or transactions with public services.