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.

Nanxi City in Sichuan

The laojia

An official trip to the “laojia” of my wife, Nanxi City in Sichuan,famous because of Zhu De and Sun Bingwen.
On 20 March 2024 we flew to Yibin Wuliangye Airport and then went by highway to Nanxi. This is part 1 of our trip report.

Laojia (老家) is a special term in China, supposed to be the hometown or birthplace. In the case of my wife her “laojia” is Nanxi while she was actually born in Beijing where she spent most of her years. So it refers to her parents and grandparents.

See the Biography of Zhu De. Chinese Edition by Jin Chong.
This book is mainly based on more than 5000 manuscripts, telegraphs, letters and speeches about Zhu De preserved by Central Archives of China – a lot of his work notes, as well as Autobiography of Zhu De in nearly 80,000 words dictated by Zhu De in 1937 and recorded by his secretary Sun Yang.
Sun Yang is the father of my wife Sun Bin and the son of Sun Bingwen.
Sun Bingwen (1885–1927) was a Chinese Communist revolutionary who was executed by the Kuomintang. He met Zhu De in 1917, and served as chief of staff of a brigade. In September 1922, he and Zhu De went to study in Germany and in November of the same year, he joined the Chinese Communist Party in Berlin.
He was arrested and executed by the Kuomintang in Shanghai during the Shanghai massacre of 1927. After his death, his daughter Sun Weishi was adopted by Zhou Enlai, later Premier of China.In Nanxi the memory of Zhu De and Sun Bingwen is important, as shown in the introduction of the city.

Nanxi City is key industrial center and modern city

Nanxi City in Sichuan is a district of the city of Yibin, a prefecture-level city in the southeastern part of Sichuan province. Its population was 4,588,804 inhabitants, according to the 2020 census,

The largest employer in Yibin is Wuliangye Yibin, a company best known for Wuliangye, a brand of sorghum-based distilled spirits known as baijiu. The Wuliangye Group grew from a small company employing just 300 people in 1977 into a large company employing over 20,000 on a seven-square-kilometer plant.
Nanxi has a website but only in Chinese.
Wuliangye started in Nanxi City and later moved to Yibin.

Nanxi has a Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit system, guided by markings on the road. Impressive! More details here.

The city is very modern with excellent infrastructure. Yes, you can say – rich. The apartments have often large balconies.

Major industries and investments

We visited most of the key industries and other on 21 March 2024, more details later.
We were in the Jinjiang Hotel in a large suite, nice. No foreign TV channels of course.


Impressive reception dinner in the hotel in the evening of 20 March. Surprisingly the food was not so spicy during our stay!

Officially we headed a large business delegation, all Chinese contacts, to explore projects in the region. On 21 March in the afternoon we had the official meeting with the city to present our delegation and their projects, followed by another impressive dinner.


Visit to Beijing by PM De Croo

Intense program

I was honored to be present on 11 January 2024 for the visit to Beijing by PM De Croo.
The reception was in the afternoon with H.E. Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium, H. E. Hadja Lahbib, Minister of Foreign Affairs and H.E. Mr. Bruno Angelet, Ambassador of Belgium.
See below details of the program as I managed to figure out on my own.
Contrary to the traditional protocol to introduce the local Belgian community we were ignored by the large delegation composed of many Belgian government officials, businesspeople and journalists. Nobody was interested to have feedback from us on the business environment. The PM kept busy with the dozens of journalists.

The PM actually mentioned in his speech the project I did in the eighties, Yaomeng Pingdingshan Power Plant, the first soft loan to China. I was in charge of the project from 1980 to 1988.
I had wanted to mention to him how I received his father in 1986. On 3 November 1986 I welcomed Belgian ambassador Jan Hollants Van Locke and Herman De Croo, Minister of Foreign Trade.

See also the official reception for the opening of the Beijing office on 26 October 1981.
Also Renaat Morel was not introduced to the PM. All while President Xi Jinping mentioned Morel’s restaurant to the PM later on.

I did have the chance to meet again H.E. Jan Hoogmartens, Bernard Dewit and the author Veerle De Vos (I have her book).


– 11 January afternoon – inauguration of the new embassy – attended by H.E. Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium, H. E. Hadja Lahbib, Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Bruno Angelet, Ambassador of Belgium and H.E. Wang Yi, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and Foreign Minister. Performance by Peter Ritzen and Liu Guangyu (we had dinner later together). Unveiling of the nameplates for three spaces in the new building, honoring three figures that played a crucial role in Belgian-China relationship: Father Ferdinand Verbiest – Tian Bao Courtyard (Panda Garden) – Qian Xiuling Hall.

– 11 January evening – dinner and panel discussion in Kempinski Hotel for the Belgian business people, panel by Joerg Wuttke (and possibly others but none of us).
– 12 January 2024 – Belgian PM De Croo and Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lahbib met with Chinese and Belgian entrepreneurs during an event organized by the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) and CCPIT in Beijing.

– 12 January 2024 (afternoon) – PM De Croo and Minister Lahbib had a meeting with the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Zhao Leji, then with the Premier of the PRC Li Qiang, and then with the President of the PRC Xi Jinping. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the whole business delegation were also invited by Premier Li Qiang for a banquet during lunchtime.

= The Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Belgian ambassador also visited the Forbidden City, closed for the public.

Results of the visit

Overall the impact was positive and it is certainly a boost for Belgium-China relations.
I collected many of the media articles, English, Dutch and Chinese (with Google translation). Anybody interested contact me. See the overview: mediaarticles
The import of Belgian pork meat is now again allowed.
The hoopla around the import of Belgian endive was a bit of a joke.
The vegetable that we call witloof or chicon or endive is mostly translated in English as “endive”. More about this famous vegetable in my post.
Indeed Renaat Morel launched in China the culture of endive around 1997, in Northeast China. He also imported samples of the transport containers with blue paper – to cover the endive that cannot have light so it remains white.

Since then we all enjoy endive and the famous Morel dish of endive au gratin. Just this week I had it served as a salad in the Sichuan Mansion during a Chinese banquet.
While citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia, Ireland and Switzerland will now be allowed to enter China without a visa, Belgium did not receive the same favor.

Impressive industries in Yantai

A day tour

On 19 April 2023 the Foreign Affairs Bureau of Yantai organized a bus to visit some impressive industries in Yantai area. Visits in the morning and in the afternoon the day after the Conference.
I was impressed by the scale and quality of the offices and factories we visited. The bio-medical facilities and other were spread over a huge campus with the most modern buildings and most advanced equipment.
One can wonder what Europe can still do to compete with those.
We did not visit any company with foreign investment. All were pure Chinese, private companies but clearly with very strong government support.

An eye-opener. Yes one can ask if China is still a “developing country”…
In some of the bio-medical facilities a few foreign doctors are employed.
My good friend Michel Humbert was sadly not around, he is the adviser of Yantai but was in Paris that day. About him:
2 June 2022 – Michel Humbert nommé Ambassadeur de l‘amitié du Shandong
18 July 2003 – Frenchman Chez Lui in Yantai

Six companies.

See a more detailed overview of the six companies we visited.

The pictures are in the order of the companies we visited:

  1. Shandong Dongyi Photoelectric Instrument Co., Ltd.
  2. CIMC Raffles
  3. Lu Ye Pharma – BIOasis
  4. Tayho Advanced Materials Group
  5. ZH-BIO
  6. Exhibition Center of Yantai International Bio-medicine Valley

One pharmaceutical company invested in research for over ten years without any income. Now their cancer medicine is mostly sold to the USA with big profit…
In the afternoon visits we traveled far away from the city and crossed immense petrochemical industries with kilometers of pipeline racks along the roads, to reach Tayho company.
The pictures show the very large industrial zones with the most modern buildings.