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.


Chinese New Year celebrations

Empty Beijing

I wrote earlier about the Beijing atmosphere in the runup to CNY, “Beijing is ready for Spring Festival”. Here how I spent my Chinese New Year celebrations.
Streets empty with the sidewalks filled with lovely fake leaves. With all my friends gone to their “laojia” (hometown) and my Chinese family not having the usual Julong dinner, I was left to my own.

Groovy Schiller’s was however open as always with John taking good care of us. I had my chili con carne and a nice beer, and I was not disappointed. Then back home for CCTV.

The (in)famous Spring Festival CCTV Gala

Every year I watch the Gala on CCTV, said to be the most watched program in the world and a main component of Chinese New Year celebrations. For a foreigner who is not fluent in Chinese it is a bit of a self-inflicted pain to watch the 4 to 5 hour show, from 8 pm, to nearly 1 am. It gives a picture of the present state of mind in China. Overall it must show happiness, satisfaction with everything and how great China is. No hint of unhappiness is allowed.
So, my take is biased due to my poor Chinese.

Too many comedy skits. Too much overload, kitsch, dizzying effects, every inch of the screen has to be filled with gimmicks and heavy colors and stuff moving around. As far as I could see no foreign face at all, in the audience and performers, contrary to other years.
For the feedback of Chinese watching the show; see below. How do they evaluate the quality and content of the gala? China for the Chinese. But in Brussels it is allowed and popular to have CNY events, unlike in China where Christmas is “not welcome as it is not Chinese”.

I wonder how much the whole show cost. All the preparation and all the shooting of videos, I feel pity for all those who had to go through many hours of shooting for just a few seconds of footage shown.
After midnight some foreigners singing some weird French songs. Not impressed. Actually the after midnight show was better than the gala in my eyes.

Sample of Internet comments

Howard Zhang (LinkedIn)(Journalist, China Pundit)
This is a rather negative view:

Chinese Central Television (CCTV) 2024 Lunar New Year Gala – a yearly propaganda show normally features cheesy comedies, patriotic choirs and Pekin operas, this year featured a North Korean style “show of force” – soldiers in full combat gear marching on stage with marshal music blaring, while background screen displayed missile launching and fighters taking off from aircraft carriers for attack sorties.
Called “Decisive Victory”, the show is a marked departure from normal years and is obviously OTT (over the top) considering Lunar New Year is a time of family gathering and merry making.
This oddity can only be interpreted as a not so subtle message that Xi and his propaganda team want to send to the outside world. Dogged by a failing economy and bubbling discontent at home – even in the upper echelon of society, Xi is standing his ground and ready for battle – to achieve a “decisive victory”.

Spring Festival Gala Review by Chinese Doom Scroll
“It actually wasn’t that bad!”
Excerpts from a guest post by the excellent substack Chinese Doom Scroll.
Open the link for a detailed overview of the Gala.

“Every year, CCTV produces a Spring Festival Gala show. Originally, I was pretty pessimistic, since the last couple of years have been pretty…disappointing, to be honest. But scrolling around on weibo today, I found a lot of people saying that this year’s show is really good—at least, the best one we’ve had in the last five years.…
“I do have to say though, I did, in fact, enjoy this year’s Spring Festival Gala. There was propaganda, of course, but it wasn’t as thick and concentrated and nonstop as, say, the 2021 Spring Festival Gala. And there were genuinely a lot of high-quality, impressive performances. And I really love this trend of having lots of music and rap performed in local Chinese dialects. I’m a total slut for obscure dialects, I hope this trend continues.”

Finally friends to meet

I had a nice dinner in QMEX (Sanlitun) with a Chinese friend on 10 February and then on 11 February an unplanned get together with Belgian friends, again in Groovy Schiller’s. An evening of beer and wine, the place was fully packed.

Yeah Susan was busy creating romantic pics… see one sample here!

Guardian Fine Art Asia


On 2 November 2023 I visited the Guardian Art Center in Beijing for the GFAA (Guardian Fine Art Asia). The exhibition was held from 1 to 5 November to show Eastern and Western antiques, classic fine arts and more. One of the booths was done by Jan Hagemann, a German antique dealer coming to China for over a decade. We had a long chat and Jan joined our Old China Hands the next day.
See his website here.

In his booth some exceptional old letters, such as from Albert Einstein (my hero!), Richard Wagner and more. Also a unique and beautiful silverware collection with a rich history that only Jan can explain in vivid detail.

An impressive exhibition

I went around to visit other booths, many beautiful pieces, see the pics after the Einstein letter. As a collector myself, what a show to admire.

Sadly the present Chinese generation has mostly lost interest in collecting, be it antiques, stamps, name it. It is sad to notice how little they value their own Chinese culture and heritage. Seems they are more into expansive Swiss watches and lady bags, the LV, Dior, Delvaux, Rolex and other luxury brands. Interesting to note: Delvaux is a Belgian manufacturer of fine leather luxury goods founded in 1829 by Charles Delvaux. The company is the oldest fine leather luxury goods house in the world.
For unknown reasons the Delvaus shop in Beijing Taikooli is gone as for now.

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.