40 years of China

Celebration or?

On 9 December 2020 I celebrated my exact 40 years of China with a dinner party for 40 guests in Morel’s Restaurant in Beijing. I arrived in Beijing for the first time on 9 December 1980 to open an office for a Belgian company (Ateliers de Construction Electriques de Charleroi, ACEC) and never planned to stay that long. Somehow I hesitated, should I celebrate, observe a minute of silence or ?

Forty years of China is a lot to digest. As I mentioned in my short speech, some suggested I show pictures or a PowerPoint. But condensing 40 years of changes in a slideshow is impossible. It’s like calling yourself a China Expert, which I never do. The longer you stay here, the more modest you become. I still have so much to learn.

The early days, my room in the Beijing Hotel, serving as office, bedroom, living room, (improvised) kitchen

It was a tough one to select whom to invite, as there was a limit imposed by the restaurant’s space, and my budget. Sorry to those who missed it.
Chef Renaat again prepared a fabulous buffet. In February it will be also 20 years I have been coming to his restaurant.

Friends and food

I had the pleasure and honor to welcome the ambassador of the European Delegation (we know each other since the nineties), the Belgian ambassador, and many other friends from our Old China Hands group.
We also welcomed our colleagues from UWEE with whom we work together for the Foreign Experts Committee under SAFEA, see here. They also gave me an unusual present with the socks!

Happy to have sold a few copies of my books, as I requested not to bring any presents.
There was plenty of food and drinks in the packed restaurant.

Speech, interview

I gave a short speech. Renaat and others then gave me a set of “bottles”, to make fun of my so-called month of not-drinking: a range of imported mineral water…

The EU ambassador brought a special present: a white board for all participants to sign as a souvenir.

I was also interviewed by China Today (La Chine au Présent), see here the online link (all in Chinese) with the UWEE video: http://www.chinatoday.com.cn/zw2018/spzg_4957/202012/t20201211_800229877.html

Or see here the PDF of the interview, along with a translation: 201209 ChinaToday interview


For those who cannot open the Chinese link and watch the video, see here (need VPN):

YouTube video: https://youtu.be/vXcAlD4Aheg

“On 9 December 2020 I celebrated my exact 40 years of China with a dinner party for 40 guests in Morel’s Restaurant in Beijing. I arrived in Beijing for the first time on 9 December 1980 and never planned to stay that long.”

Thanks to Mark of UWEE for the great video!

Rotary Club of Beijing meets

Lunches and dinners

The Rotary Club of Beijing meets now regularly with in principle 3 lunches and one dinner each month.
Our Rotaract Clubs try their best, the West Club with online seminars and the Sanlitun starting again the career talks. The upcoming career talk is by Rtn Benoit, our IPR guru.
On 1 December we had the Annual General Meeting with the elections of the new team for 2021-2022. Next president in July 2021 will be our PE Didier (Belgium) with as the new PE Benoit (yes, Belgium!).

As such the meeting was members only. Some members joined by ZOOM to vote.

A gourmet dinner

Rtn Regula invited us on 5 December 2020 for a real gourmet dinner, prepared by a Chinese chef who worked many years as the cook for ambassadors. Terrific job by the guy who is like 80 years old.

I then also let the people guess who was in this picture dated 1 June 1986,
Yes the two ladies were at the table…

Let’s talk bread

On 8 December 2020 dinner in Morel’s Restaurant for the Rotary Club of Beijing, members and guests.
Guest speaker was David Colin, Mexican CFO of one of the largest bread companies in the world, “BIMBO”.
BIMBO is a Mexican company that has conquered the world and China. David spent some 14 years in China and told us about its development of the company and about the regular culture shock between Mexican and Chinese way of life.
Bimbo (Beijing) Food Co., LTD manufactures and distributes bakery food products. The Company produces bread, bread-type rolls, cakes, burgers, sandwiches, and more. Bimbo (Beijing) Food mainly conducts businesses in China. See here.

In our home we were regular customers of their bread! Pretty tasty!
Our guest Emily got the well-know apple pie of Morel’s as her birthday cake!

Old China Hands 4 December

Full house

Our lunch for Old China Hands 4 December saw a full house with a total of 38, while two could not show up, otherwise we were 40.
Good to see a few of the missing members who made it back to Beijing.

Our friend Kent again surprised us with his culinary skills, bring deserts for all of us, cannoli and Apple strudel. Well done!
Cannoli: see here the details of the Italian pastry dessert: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannoli. Not to be confused with the Italian pasta dish, cannelloni.
Apple strudel (German: Apfelstrudel): see here the details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_strudel.

Next lunch

As 1 January 2021 is a Friday, the lunch will be exceptionally on Friday 8 January.
Chef Renaat has kept the very low price for the set lunch in 2020 but he will have to increase the price to RMB 130, the normal price being 148 (without coffee or tea) and we also get a coffee extra, value 28.
Happy Holidays to all and see you in 2021!

Rotary Beijing in action

Rotaract Club of Beijing

Rotary Beijing in action, also includes our Rotaract Clubs. The West club is still struggling as most of its members are unable to return to China and many universities impose restrictions for students to leave their campus. They do however organize regular online events.

Rotaract Club of Beijing

We did have a few meetings of the Sanlitun club, in Yard House (SOHO Sanlitun), like on 23 November.

Lunch in Kempinski

On 17 November the Rotary Club of Beijing had the regular Tuesday lunch in Kempinski.
Rtn Piper once again patiently explained the complex financing tools we have for our projects, the so-called Rotary Foundation and related.

We also welcomed a new member, our Belgian friend Benoit who is an IP specialist. He is also a member of my “Old China Hands Lunch”.

Dinner at Morel’s

Once per month we have a dinner instead of the usual lunch.
Again we could welcome a speaker, our new member Benoit who refreshed our knowledge of IP. Yes, all that complicated stuff of patents, etc. Think about all the fake GUCCI, Red Label and other on the market here… China being the champion of fakes… despite the clampdown by the authorities.

“Intellectual property rights are legal rights that provide creators protection for original works, inventions, or the appearance of products, artistic works, scientific developments, and so on. There are four types of intellectual property rights (IP): patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.”

Not to be confused with IP address… “IP address stands for internet protocol address; it is an identifying number that is associated with a specific computer or computer network. When connected to the internet, the IP address allows the computers to send and receive information.”

Another nice dinner by Morel’s Restaurant!

Belgians in Beijing

Back to social life

Beijing being without doubt the safest place in the world, free of COVID-19, Belgians in Beijing have been getting together recently, with a social drink and with an official reception at the Belgian embassy.

“Belgians in Beijing”

The BiB had a successful social on 29 October 2020 in Groovy’s Schiller (the former Nearby The Tree), a lively chat over beer and food.

We are also looking forward not only to the revival of the BiB but also to the upcoming activities of Vlamingen in de Wereld, with its new Beijing delegate.

King’s Day

King’s Day is more or less considered as our “National Day” in locations such as Beijing as the real National Day is on 21 July when most people are away.
On 13 November 2020 the Belgian ambassador graciously invited the Belgian community to his residence for drinks and food. It was good to be back in the “old” embassy (actually now the Residence only), with the present “temporary” embassy in the Fort Knox building, a pretty unwelcoming location.

Food was by Renaat Morel, delicious and copious as always, drinks offered by the sponsors (Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Vedett and others).

The ambassador mentioned in his speech the absence of many of our compatriots. At least we had the Schtroumpfs to keep us company.

Very nice evening thanks to the mild winter temperature. Good to meet many familiar faces.