Meeting Jan Jambon

Morel’s Restaurant

My friend’s restaurant is “the” place to meet interesting people. Like meeting Jan Jambon, who signed the VIP book of the restaurant.

On 25 September 2017 he had lunch there, when he was on an official visit:
H.E. Mr. Jan JAMBON, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior and Security attended the 86th INTERPOL General Assembly session in Beijing; accompanied by H.E. Mr. Marc VINCK, Ambassador of Belgium.

He was again in Beijing in November 2019 during the Belgian Economic Mission to the People’s Republic of China, presided by Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium, Representative of His Majesty the King  in his capacity as Minister-President of the Government of Flanders and Flemish Minister for Foreign Policy, Culture, IT and Facilities. That time I did not meet him.

Giving my book

I took the opportunity to give a copy of my book Toxic Capitalism. Also present was my friend Peter Ritzen and his wife Stella, and of course chef Renaat Morel.
See the pictures:

Old China Hands lunch 2 November

Our monthly lunch at Morel’s Restaurant

The Old China Hands lunch 2 November was this time on a “normal” day and saw a nice attendance of 32 OCH, this time finally some ladies!
It was also, if I may say, the “official” launch of my book as I had some copies, the first batch that arrived in Beijing. Well, all sold out but I will have more copies for the next lunch. Anyway one can buy the Kindle version here:

“LAUGH AND GET WISER! Jokes and witty wisdom for adults” is out! The Kindle version US$2.99:
The books are also available in The Bookworm.

Gilbert (again) in the news

I had a CRI interview in my home office on 5 November and the audio plus some pictures are online:
So, if you have nothing better to do you can listen to the interview…

Our next lunch

Next one is Friday 7 December, the last one for this year.
The following one in the new year will be on Friday 4 January.

Edwin Maher in Internations Book Club

Edwin Maher, a CCTV celebrity

On Sunday 25 September we had to honor to welcome Edwin Maher in our Internations Beijing Book Reading group, to discuss his latest book “Caught on CCTV”.
I remember one of my Old China Hands lunches (Edwin is a regular), when some of our Chinese clients were having a lunch at Morel’s at the same time. We told them some ambassadors were in our lunch and if they wanted to greet them – and take a picture. Good idea till they spotted Edwin sitting there, they did not want to know about whatever ambassador: they only wanted to see Edwin and take a picture.
It says a lot about Edwin who has an impressive career in CCTV as the host for the English news.
So, happy he took some time on his Sunday before another CCTV appearance.

Edwin Maher, the author

I am fortunate to have his two books, all a present from Edwin and signed by him. His first “My China Daily” was very well received, my wife said “You see this is what and how you should write”. Yes boss.
The book we discussed was his recent Caught on CCTV.

A history of CCTV: Caught on CCTV

When I started reading the book, I was immediately shocked. He dedicated the book to Yan Yinan, a CRI reporter with whom I worked for over a year, nearly every week, for interviews on the 2008 Olympics. She was a superb girl and when she left us, many like me were shocked.

As a writer myself I was amazed on how Edwin managed to keep track of all the little details on what happened in CCTV. Did he run the HR department? Bribe the HR director? Well, he did it the Chinese way (as I learned soon after landing here myself): he always carried a notebook writing down everything. But he beats me by far by his incredible detail.
So, the book might be at times a bit heavy, like a sort of Encyclopedia, reminding me of my own book. It is however an important historical document, it will be a legacy for all later to have the insights on how CCTV became what is is today.
I found back a number of CCTV hosts who interviewed me over the years…

Edwin writes with a healthy sense of humor but carefully navigates all “sensitive” topics one might look for.

As I understood he wrote the book on his MacBook Air, much like I often do. And he was clever to use a text software instead of the usual MS Word (it is more appropriate for publishing).

All love Edwin Maher

Our discussion was very lively and most wanted an autograph in his book, and the picture of course. Edwin was as usual so patient and friendly to satisfy everybody.
The pictures talk for themselves…

(Note: this post also appears on

Green Growth, Smart Growth

On 30 August 2016 we had as guest speaker in our Beijing Rotary Club Mr. Ralf Fücks, with the topic: “Green Growth, Smart Growth – A New Approach to Economics, Innovation and the Environment”.

The background (or call it teaser) was to be as follows:
How can we change the patterns of economic growth away from growing at the expense of ecosystems to a new paradigm based on growth with nature?
We are living in an age of economic growth which has helped countries and societies to develop and to become more prosperous. Yet, the old model of growth based on fossil energies has proved to be environmentally destructive and is reaching its natural limits. Climate change, air pollution, massive losses of fertile soil and increasing water crisis in large parts of the world indicate an urgent need for action if we don’t want to jeopardize the livelihoods of future generations.
This is why a fundamental change is needed: A new paradigm based on growth with nature and not against it. Decoupling economic growth from an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the exploitation of limited natural resources has to be a first important step. Establishing new indicators for measuring prosperity as well as changing our consumption patterns are equally important. This is a global challenge. Solutions have to be global too, involving a plurality of actors that range from politics and sciences to private business and civil society.

In his speech, Mr. Ralf Fuecks, Co-President of Heinrich-Boell-Foundation, and author of the book “Green Growth, Smart Growth” elaborated why this is not only an ambitious goal, but also how it could be achieved.

Well, let me be a bit disappointed for two main reasons:

First of all I failed to understand what real solutions he is proposing, except for the obvious. So, I learned nothing new.
Secondly I look at how the “public” reacts in awe to the whole speech as if “finally” they got the important message. Oh well seems most never read my book (or did not get the message). And yes, I propose solutions in my book. Like we say in Belgium (and I guess in other countries): “You are never a prophet in your own country”. Seems that applies to our little circle too, so I never had to give a talk. Yeah I know, I grumble a bit…

InterNations Beijing: Book Reading Club

Sunday afternoon 1 September, 3 to 5 pm at a new location: IQIYI CAFE, where TERRA restaurant was a year ago. Close to Zhongyu Building, Sanlitun Nan Lu.
As it happens more, I was the only man among all the girls – no complaints.
I managed, unexpectedly, to finish the assignment right in time: to read the book of the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, “The Alchemist”. Pity I had no time to find the Portuguese version in time, so I read the English translation.
We had a lively discussion about the book, with the additional remarks if some of the thoughts could be applied the same way in a Chinese environment: how well can one pursue his/her Personal Legend, or if you prefer, how can you succeed in your quest to fulfill your dream. Indeed, Chinese society urges a lot of conformity and pursuing very personal goals are often made difficult by peer and family pressure.

For me the added value of the discussion was that it made me reflect on possible themes for my new book(s). Won’t comment on it right now.
Thanks for the pics from Jing and Windy (I improved them a bit).
Looking forward to the next round.