Old China Hands 7 July

After the COVID years…

Many of members were traveling in China and the world so our lunch Old China Hands 7 July had only 15 people. Many left for the first time since a few years due to COVID. We expect the next lunch lunch on 4 August to be the same, most are away for July and August.

But we still had a great lunch and chat. The food by Renaat Morel’s team, delicious as always.

Home is Where the Heart is

A book is coming out very soon, telling the China stories of several of our members: Mark Levine, Raja Magasweran, Terry Crossman and yes myself. I also know well most of the other contributors.

The book is the work of New Star Press with Chen Shuo the talented reporter who skillfully wrote my story. The book is to be published in USA by Waymont International Publishing House with the title “Home is Where the Heart is”.
See another book it published “I Grew up in China” :230210 growingup and the announcement of our book: 230210 Wheretheheartis,

A bit weird but The U.S. publishing company cannot be found on the Internet…
I already have the full PDF of the book and I made a PDF of only my part, 33 pages with many of my pictures.
Except for one single sentence (no details!) the text is absolutely correct.
Now waiting for the hard copy!

Gilbert was on CCTV4

Finally done

After months of waiting, days of shooting, meetings, and scanning old pictures, Gilbert was on CCTV4, with his friend Raja.
“China Edge” featured “I have been in China for 40 years”. The CCTV TV premiere was broadcast on CCTV-4 at 22:00 on Sunday 28 May 2023. Here is the CCTV program link. Click on the link to watch the nearly 30 minutes documentary. Look for the image with the Bird’s Nest. Or directly use this link, needs time to load.
A more easy link is here, where you simply click the play button.

We started working on it in late September 2022, we had extensive shooting on 29 October 2022 in my home, on 7 November 2022 near the Bird’s Nest and the Athletes Alley and during the Old China Hands lunch on 8 November 2022.

The documentary was too short to tell all my stories. CCTV4 plans to use more of the footage in the future.
All in all they did a great job. While I have the full video in my desktop it was exciting to watch it live on TV Sunday evening.

See some screenshots!

Shooting at home

On 29 October 2022 the large CCTV4 crew invaded my home office, turning everything upside down. One needs a lot of patience with those TV people.

Main parts were the interview and shooting me going through my mountain of old picture albums.

The Bird’s Nest

On 7 November 2022 we spent an awful time near the Bird’s Nest. The crew had some “creative ideas” (no, NOT mine!) to build some kind of bird’s nest with twigs they found on the ground. I felt like back in kindergarten…

The same day we went to see the Athletes’ Alley of Olivier Strebelle in the Olympic Park, that will be the topic of a separate post. Too many memories of that statue and for me a bit of a sad ending.

Interviewed by The Bridge (CGTN)

Skype interview

On 22 March 2023 Gilbert was interviewed by The Bridge (CGTN): “We talk about consumer waste around the world with the author of Toxic Capitalism”.
Here is the latest link from CGTN.

The interview on Skype was with Jason Smith and (Ms.) Beibei of The Bridge Radio Show and Podcast.
Jason is now also a regular at our Old China Hands Monthly Lunch!

The interview was pleasant and well structured. The funny thing was, Jason mentioned to Beibei they were going to interview me. Beibei surprised, turned around and showed Jason the copy of my book Toxic Capitalism that she had just bought. Then Jason ordered another copy for himself – he could have bought it directly from me!
So there was a lot of talk about environmental topics, along the many other.

The introduction on the website:
“Sir Gilbert Van Kerckhove from Ghent, Belgium, has lived in China for four decades. While working in the country, he led the initiative to build Shanghai’s Line 3 in the 1990s and was involved in the preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. In his book Toxic Capitalism, he shares extensive knowledge on global consumerism and wastage, and how to tackle these challenges. A recipient of the highest award for foreigners in China: The Friendship Award, Van Kerckhove is also the Rotating Chairman of Foreign Expert Committee, Belt and Road International Talent. We ask him about environmental efforts in modern China and how he views his 43 years in the Middle Kingdom.”

Other audio links

The full intro about me:
“Gilbert Van Kerckhove, is from Ghent, Belgium where he graduated with a master’s degree in electronic engineering. He speaks Dutch, French, English, Portuguese, German, survival Spanish, and survival Chinese. He first moved to China in 1980. He is the president and founder of Beijing Global Strategy Consulting Co., Ltd., a Wholly Owned Foreign Enterprise in management consulting that provided strategy guidance, investment & development advice and lobbying to foreign and Chinese companies and entities.
Since early 2000 he has been assisting the Beijing Municipal authorities in the areas of economic studies and foreign investment promotion.
He was deeply involved in the preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. His book Toxic Capitalism was published in August 2012. He is a recipient of the highest award for foreigners in China: The Friendship Award. He is also the Rotating Chairman of Foreign Expert Committee, Belt and Road International Talent.
He’s earned the Knight in the Order of the Crown – Belgium (21 November 2004 – by HRH Prince Philip).
And finally he has also worked in Brazil, Nigeria, Spain, Thailand, Indochina and Burma (Myanmar). There’s more, but we only have an hour. Welcome to the show Gilbert.”

The podcast is on a range of other websites:


Apple podcasts


YouTube video
A short clip is on YouTube, now with my first name corrected … (thanks!)

The updated clip

Author Gilbert Van Kerckhove Discusses China’s Transformation” (Need VPN)

Ambassador’s Kitchen in Beijing 2

Belgian ambassador’s residence

As mentioned earlier, Mango TV was also shooting the residence. In this post Ambassador’s Kitchen in Beijing 2, some details and pics.
For a whole day the TV crew invaded the residence and I admire the ambassador for his patience. I was myself not present, Renaat Morel was however one of the guest stars.

See some of the screenshots of the program and other pics.
The focus was on the typical products Belgium is famous for. Of course we have the cuisine, the many beers, the champions in cycling and our tourist attractions. And we are famous worldwide for the many cartoons. The focus was on the Smurfs.

Gilbert and cartoons

On 28 September 2018 I was invited to give a talk about Belgian culture in The 3rd China Int. Conference for the Investment and Trade of Cultural Industry, in the China National Convention Center. The talk covered only a small part of all the details I have on file on Belgian cartoons and folklore. Eduard van Kleunen, Counsellor of the Belgian embassy attended.

The title of my presentation was “Belgium: A small country with a rich culture (and exporting it)”.
Here the video of the talk, not great because too much focus on me and not on the slides.

Belgium has a long list of famous cartoons, see here the most relevant:

– The Smurfs (French: Les Schtroumpfs; Dutch: De Smurfen) is a Belgian comic franchise centered on a fictional colony of small, blue, human-like creatures who live in mushroom-shaped houses in the forest.

– Asterix or The Adventures of Asterix (French: Astérix or Astérix le Gaulois) is a series of French comics. The series first appeared in the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Pilote on 29 October 1959. The Asterix series is one of the most popular Franco-Belgian comics in the world, with the series being translated into 111 languages and dialects.

– Jommeke is a Flemish comic strip series in publication since 1955. It was created by Jef Nys and can be defined as a humoristic children’s adventure series. Jommeke, an 11-year-old boy, is the series’ main protagonist.

– Suske en Wiske is a Belgian cartoon series by Willy Vandersteen, one of the most popular ones in Belgium and also Holland. It started in 1945. In other regions: Chinese (Taiwanese version): Dada & Beibei – English (UK): Bob & Bobette (later: Spike & Suzy) – English (USA): Willy & Wanda.

– Robbedoes  & Kwabbernoot (Spirou & Fantasio) is one of the most popular classic Franco-Belgian comics. The series, which has been running since 1938, shares many characteristics with other European humorous adventure comics like The Adventures of Tintin and Asterix.

– Tintin (Dutch: Kuifje en Bobie)(French Tintin et Milou): The Adventures of Tintin is a series of 24 comic albums created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name Hergé. The series was one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century. The series first appeared in French on 10 January 1929 in Le Petit Vingtième (The Little Twentieth), a youth supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle (The Twentieth Century).

– Lucky Luke Comic book series: Lucky Luke is a Western bande dessinée series created by Belgian cartoonist Morris in 1946. Morris wrote and drew the series single-handedly until 1955, after which he started collaborating with French writer René Goscinny. Their partnership lasted until Goscinny’s death in 1977.

CCTV4 in Morel


For several days invasion of CCTV4 in Morel ’s Restaurant and Café.
They are preparing a documentary about Renaat and his restaurant, to be shown worldwide. Not a surprise as Renaat has an impressive track record, see my previous post.
There were interviews with Renaat, Susan, with Renaat and myself. Then shooting in the kitchen, Renaat eating his famous fish soup, Willem eating mussels (poor guy, they were cold in the end), Renaat going to the market, Renaat in video call with Belgium, plus shooting pictures of some of the dishes… Several days to shoot, it seemed like never to end.

The crew seemed to think the restaurant was theirs, for once we were lucky as no customers were flooding in. And no any noise please!

Sometimes frustrating

I found the CCTV team not to be as professional as the BTV team I worked with recently, see earlier post.
Constant program changes, new questions, and again new questions, failure to be allowed to shoot in the market…
Annoying also: I had my CHIMAY polo shirt with a small logo, I thought cool because it’s a famous Belgian beer and we are in a Belgian place. No no no, no any logos allowed. No showing of beer brands. Not even to mention the concerns of self-censorship and related.
Working with Chinese media can be a real pain and frustration. And nothing we can do about it.