On 9 December 2020 I celebrated my exact 40 years of China with a dinner party for 40 guests in Morel’s Restaurant in Beijing. I arrived in Beijing for the first time on 9 December 1980 to open an office for a Belgian company (Ateliers de Construction Electriques de Charleroi, ACEC) and never planned to stay that long. Somehow I hesitated, should I celebrate, observe a minute of silence or ?
Forty years of China is a lot to digest. As I mentioned in my short speech, some suggested I show pictures or a PowerPoint. But condensing 40 years of changes in a slideshow is impossible. It’s like calling yourself a China Expert, which I never do. The longer you stay here, the more modest you become. I still have so much to learn.
The early days, my room in the Beijing Hotel, serving as office, bedroom, living room, (improvised) kitchen
It was a tough one to select whom to invite, as there was a limit imposed by the restaurant’s space, and my budget. Sorry to those who missed it.
Chef Renaat again prepared a fabulous buffet. In February it will be also 20 years I have been coming to his restaurant.
Friends and food
I had the pleasure and honor to welcome the ambassador of the European Delegation (we know each other since the nineties), the Belgian ambassador, and many other friends from our Old China Hands group.
We also welcomed our colleagues from UWEE with whom we work together for the Foreign Experts Committee under SAFEA, see here. They also gave me an unusual present with the socks!
Happy to have sold a few copies of my books, as I requested not to bring any presents.
There was plenty of food and drinks in the packed restaurant.
I gave a short speech. Renaat and others then gave me a set of “bottles”, to make fun of my so-called month of not-drinking: a range of imported mineral water…
The EU ambassador brought a special present: a white board for all participants to sign as a souvenir.
I was also interviewed by China Today (La Chine au Présent), see here the online link (all in Chinese) with the UWEE video: http://www.chinatoday.com.cn/zw2018/spzg_4957/202012/t20201211_800229877.html
Or see here the PDF of the interview, along with a translation: 201209 ChinaToday interview
For those who cannot open the Chinese link and watch the video, see here (need VPN):
YouTube video: https://youtu.be/vXcAlD4Aheg
“On 9 December 2020 I celebrated my exact 40 years of China with a dinner party for 40 guests in Morel’s Restaurant in Beijing. I arrived in Beijing for the first time on 9 December 1980 and never planned to stay that long.”
Thanks to Mark of UWEE for the great video!