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 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.


Beijing is ready for Spring Festival

Mass migration

Beijing is ready for Spring Festival while the biggest world mass migration starts with Chinese people traveling to celebrate Chinese New Year with their families, or simply going on vacation.

I never leave Beijing during the “Golden Week” of October 1, May 1, Spring Festival (the holiday period for Chinese New Year). Railway stations and highways (certainly), and airports (sometimes) are plain chaos. Meanwhile Beijing is ready for Spring Festival for those clever people who stay and will enjoy a quiet city.

Fairs Open with Festive Shopping Experiences in Beijing

Shopping for festive goods at fairs is an essential part of this holiday. Beijing offers a variety of options, combining both modern and traditional fairs to explore.
Over 300 merchants at the Workers’ Stadium are offering a diverse array of products till 6 February. These include a wide range of traditional festive goods like bacon, dried fruits and nuts, as well as tea and even furniture. There are also specialties hailing from various regions across China, such as rice from Wuchang, oysters from Rushan, coconut powder from Hainan, beef jerky from Inner Mongolia, as well as exotic products like Russian chocolate, Ugandan coffee, Ghanaian cocoa butter, and Moldovan red wine.

Both my wife and I went exploring the market. I tasted the BBQ skewers at the stands outside of the covered market. My wife bought a full trolley of sausages, seaweed, and pressed donkey head (my daily breakfast).
Another famous fair is at the National Agricultural Exhibition Center, also until 6 February, I did not visit as I guess it is pretty similar.
The traditional “Beijing New Year Goods Fair” is a treasure trove of agricultural and other products, ranging from dried mushrooms from northeastern China to seafood delicacies from southern China, and from beef and mutton from Inner Mongolia to tonic products from Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan. And also nuts, snacks, sweets, pastries, tea, seafood, and more from various provinces and cities across China.

Festive decorations

Taikooli in Sanlitun is featuring Legoland and yes there is a Lego Dragon!

Our Worker’s Stadium Avenue has festive decoration including images of leaves projected on the sidewalks.

That is in the Chaoyang section, the Dongcheng section seems to have a smaller budget… and less lights…

Yingjie Museum of Stone Art

A unique museum

The Beijing Yingjie Museum of Stone Art is located in “A.C. Museum Hotel” in A.C. Embassy Hotel on Dongzhimenwai Avenue, pretty close to the well-known Paddy O’Shea bar.

The complete hotel is pretty much like an art museum but the Yingjie Museum of Stone Art is a pretty unique attraction in the basement of the hotel, accessible through an elevator.
It is not well known, which is a pity. The Yingjie Museum of Stone Art is dedicated to art in stones, most straight from Mother Nature. The “paintings” you see are thin slices of natural stones but they look like paintings of forests, rivers and anything according to your imagination.
Near the hotel lobby there is even an “Art Stone Bar”. Nearby more galleries with paintings and other art.

The website mentioned in their leaflet,,  actually goes to this website, no English. There are many pictures and videos but all in Chinese.

A lot to admire

We were invited to a VIP tour on 14 September 2023 and we were very impressed.
Most of the exhibits are related to natural stones, artwork with inlaid stones, statues, stalagmites, but also paintings (one from a Belgian artist), African art, Chinese antiques, European antique furniture and more.

Even the walls and the floors are pieces of art! Everything is of superb quality and craftmanship.
There is a section not open to the public where repairs are made, among other activities.

Ming City Wall Ruins Park

Walking along the old city wall

As mentioned in a previous post after the Observatory talk, we had lunch and then journey south to the Ming City Wall Ruins Park and walk along the base of the walls with in-depth commentary and historical anecdotes provided by Jim Nobles. The tour of the corner tower was not possible that day due to another event. We started at the east section near the railways station where you can see the inner structure of the massive wall. We then went south turning around the corner tower.
Starting 10:30 AM the tour concluded at Chongwenmen subway station around 5:00 PM. It was another great event by The Royal Asiatic Society of Beijing.

The Beijing Ming City Wall Ruins Park is a park in Beijing with the longest and best preserved section of the Ming Dynasty city wall. The park is located 3 km from the city center and extends east from Chongwenmen to Dongbianmen and then north to near to Beijing Railway Station East Street. The park features a 1.5 km section of the Ming city wall and the Southeast Corner Tower, which are over 550 years old and surrounded by a lovely green park space to the south and east, where people gather to relax and play music.

Map of Beijing’s Ming City walls (Wikipedia)

The city wall from Chongwenmen to the Southeast Corner Tower in the early 1900s overlooking the moat and the Huashi neighborhood. The Corner Tower in 1921, after a gate was opened in the wall for railway tracks when the Beijing–Fengtian Railway was built over the moat outside the wall.

History of the wall

Preserved is a section of the Ming city wall and the Southeast Corner Tower, that once connected Chongwenmen and Dongbianmen, two city gates that have been replaced with roadway intersections. A shorter section of the eastern city wall is separated from the corner tower by a railway out of the Beijing railway station. The Beijing railway station and its rail depots occupy the area immediately north of the park.

The inner city wall was built during the Ming Dynasty in 1419. The Ming city walls stood for nearly 550 years until the early 1960s when most of the gates and walls were torn down to build the Beijing Subway, which runs underneath where the walls stood. The subway’s inner loop line turned into the Inner City at Chongwenmen to stop at the Beijing railway station, and did not need to run beneath a section of the wall at the southeast corner of the Inner City. Of the 40 km of the original wall, only this 1.5 km section was spared.

In the late 1990s, the city government decided convert the remnants of the wall into a park and relocate the small businesses and homes between the foot of the southern city wall and Chongwenmen East Avenue. Construction began in November 2001. Large trees that stood in the courtyards were preserved. To preserve the historical integrity of the fortifications, the authorities solicited donations of Ming era bricks from city residents to use in the restoration. About of one-fifth of 2,000,000 bricks used in the restoration are from the Ming-era.

The Southeast Corner Tower was built from 1436 to 1439 and is a major state-protected historical site. The tower, which rises 29 m in height with 144 archery windows, is the largest corner tower still standing in China. The tower could house 200 soldiers and has ramps for soldiers and horses. Inside the tower is an exhibit on the history of the city’s Ming-era walls. The Red Gate Gallery, a privately managed, non-profit contemporary art gallery opened in 1991 inside the tower and operated for over two decades before moving to the 798 Art Zone.

The inner city wall stood 11.4 m high and were topped with battlements that rose a further 1.9 m. The wall, lined with brick and filled with rammed earth, was 19.8 m thick at the foundation and 16 m at the top. Bastions protruding on the outside face of the wall are locally known as mamian or “horse face”. The bastions were spaced about 80 m apart, allowed archers to fire at attackers from three sides. The restored fortification has 11 bastions on the southern wall and two bastions on the shorter eastern wall. Only the battlements of the corner tower and one bastion has been fully restored.
During its history the city wall was never breached and artillery could not bring it down due to its massive construction. The city was penetrated at the gates.

Also on the park grounds is a restored signal house of the Beijing–Fengtian (Jingfeng) Railway built in 1901.