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.

Yantai International Conference

Big turnout

As reported earlier, I joined the 2023 Conference on International Exchange of Professionals and International Experts’ Tour in Yantai. On 18 April 2023 I was present in the Yantai International Conference to listen to the speeches of the Yantai mayor and vice mayors, among others. Yantai as many other Chinese cities is eager to attract more foreign expertise.
During the morning coffee break a pretty impressive buffet table by the hotel, sadly most of the goodies I had to skip because too much sweet and carbs. Instead I tried to talk with the robot but it did not understand Flemish.
There was a big lunch for the participants, again lots of seafood and interesting dishes. And an interview by local media. (What’s new?)

In the afternoon I gave my short speech on the theme of foreign experts.

Free time

On 19 April we had time to relax. And the fog cleared and we could see the sea and the beach from the hotel.
We walked towards the beach, discovering the very large cemetery along the way, hidden in a forest. The area was littered with rubbish as a few weeks ago on 5 April 2023 there was the Tomb-sweeping Festival (Qingming) () when relatives decorate the tombs. But they can no longer burn the offerings so the wind blows it all over the place. Not sure how the deceased feel about it…

The beach was nearly deserted but very large and quite OK.
On the way back, in front of the hotel. we discovered a small Chinese BBQ place that was fully packed. We got a seat in the basement. Surprisingly they had a large beer collection and I had a (Belgian) Kasteel beer with the plate of goose. pretty tasty.
In my next post I will report on the factories we visited, an eye-opening experience.

Yantai City in Shandong

Big conference

We were invited to Yantai City in Shandong by the Foreign Affairs Department to take part in the 2023 Conference on International Exchange of Professionals and International Experts’ Tour. I was there as rotating chairman of the Foreign Experts Group of the Belt & Road International Talent Fund, under the State Administration of Foreign Experts.
The Conference originally planned to have 300 attendants but I understand they finally had over 500. Location was the Crowne Plaza Yantai Sea View in Laishan District.

On 17 April we traveled by train from Beijing South Railway Station (after a coffee and snack) to Yantai, always comfortable.
Near every day we could hardly see anything from our hotel room as there was always fog coming from the sea. Only the last day we could finally see the sea!

Yantai has a population of around 7 million, located south of the junction of Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea. It is the largest fishing seaport in Shandong. Yantai is currently the second largest industrial city in Shandong, next to Qingdao. However, the region’s largest industry is agriculture. It is famous throughout China for a particular variety of apple and Laiyang pear, and is home to the country’s largest and oldest grape winery, Changyu.
Major industries are agriculture, wine and brandy, petrochemical, gold mining, biomedicine and many other.
This is the first post about Yantai, more to come about the Conference, factory visits and more.

Seafood and seafood!

On the evening of 17 April a first seafood dinner with friends in Xiao Hong Jing (Little Red Whale), supposed to be one of the best in Yantai. The choice is impressive: abalone, cockle, mussels, shrimps, prawns, oysters, scallops, crab, screw shells, octopus, fish, snails, razor shells, ostrich eggs, silk worm cocoon, worms, bugs, … The mussels were rally soso as I am usd to the top quality in Morel’s restaurant…
The next day we went back again to the same restaurant, along with other foreign guests who brought vodka of I think 65%.

See the short video! (VPN needed)

I later discovered I had some seafood allergy, I blame the screw shells because it all started already in Beijing where I ate those for the first time. A bit annoying but found the right medicine cream (Eloson).

Zibo BBQ capital of China

BBQ Capital

Our visit to Zibo was of course to check out “Zibo BBQ capital of China”! Here the third and last post about our visit.
Since early March 2023, the local barbecue has caused a sensation online. The little double-layer charcoal stove, small pancakes, green onions and sauce became icons among netizens. Zibo has made a name for itself with its grilled meat pancakes. I also tried to make those!

Zibo, a city of 4.7 million, received 4.8 million visitors in March, with a year-on-year increase of 134%, and tourist revenue was up by 60%. A total of 1,288 barbecue businesses served 135,800 customers a day on average, most of whom were university students from across the province and nationwide.
About 120,000 people – many searching for barbecue food – visited Zibo over five-day Labor Day holiday this year.

Online travel agency Qunar said that every tourist who went to Zibo for a barbecue meal spent 750 yuan on average on the trip, including transport and accommodation. That is about half the per capita spending of visitors to more well-known and established tourist centers like Chengdu in Sichuan province.
The local government has set up 21 buses to ferry visitors from the train station directly to barbecue restaurants. They erected the barbecue festival on the site of a sprawling seafood market, the only place big enough to host 10,000 people. The place we visited was said to host 20,000 people – so not sure about the figures.

On the bus

We went to one of the new BBQ villages outside of the city center, on a bus with the Shandong University Medical Alumni Association. There was a monstrous traffic jam on the highway approaching the BBQ village.
We were told the location serves 20,000 and customers often eat in shifts. We spent the whole evening with our group. While some other locations are said to be a bit dangerous with drunken people and fighting, our location was super crowded but with good security and there was no any incident.
It all was a bit chaotic as we were all packed together sitting on small stools, or some on cartons of beer. I was told the normal cost per person is less than RMB100, without drinks. Our group had arranged a lot of beer and other drinks.

One cannot say the BBQ is that special but it is really the experience of being in the middle of the BBQ chaos. We had too many BBQ skewers of all kinds, all kinds of meat, sausages, fish and more. And I tried to make the famous local pancakes. Let’s say it was fun.

In the media

The BBQ story was all over the national and international media, China Daily, SCMP and even New York Times. I collected the media articles, see here the PDF file.

Short video

I tried to assemble a short video: “14 May 2023 with the group of Shandong University Medical Alumni exploring the famous Zibo BBQ scene, Chaotic video of chaotic evening!” (need VPN)


Zhoucun Old Street in Zibo

Time for sightseeing

As mentioned in a previous post, during our stay in Zibo we also did some tourism.
We visited Zhoucun Old Street in Zibo on Sunday afternoon 14 May. Zibo city is divided up into several districts. The “downtown” district is Zhangdian, and the ancient city district is Zhoucun. This district is about a half hour by car from downtown Zibo.

Zhoucun is mostly known for two things: silk and sesame crackers. Along with typical souvenir-type shops, snack shops and ceramic shops, there are many silk shops with beautiful clothing and scarves.
Zhoucun “street” was built during the Mingyongle period; the Yongle Emperor (2 May 1360 – 12 August 1424) was the third Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigning from 1402 to 1424. The “street” is like Wangfujing in Beijing and Nanjing Road in Shanghai. It has become an iconic market in Zhoucun. The street is divided into two sections, the length is more than 1300 meters, and the width is 8 to 10 meters.
The street was formed in the Song and Yuan Dynasty, the most prosperous in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasty. During the Song and Yuan Dynasty it sold more silk, medicinal materials, daily necessities, utensils, etc., the silver industry rose in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

See how the street looks like, the food sold and the many shops. We also visited he sesame cake museum. As it was a Sunday afternoon the street was packed. I was the only foreigner…
I have visited a number of those “old shopping streets” in various cities, often referred to as “gucheng”, old city. They are often much the same but it is always fun to visit as there are some more local specialties to discover.


Here it were the sesame crackers and “Chǎo guō bing” (炒锅饼)(“wok pie”), a kind of “noodles” (actually fried pancakes cut in strips) I needed to buy for a friend in Beijing.