VIW hosted 3 Flemish China Old Hands


In the evening of 28 September 2021 VIW hosted 3 Flemish China Old Hands in the Belgian Embassy of Beijing.VIW – “Vlaanderen in the Wereld”, see

I am not sure but I think I am member of VIW since the early eighties. We now have a dynamic representative in Beijing, Tina, who organised the succesful event in collaboration with the Belgian Embassy. Thanks Tina, thanks to our embassy!

Gilbert, one of the speakers

I found it a challenge to give an overview of my 40 years of China in less than 20 minutes… (I think I talked for about 22 minutes). I had a valuable help from Tina’s son who was the “clicker”. I also brought “3 exhibits”.

I never did a similar presentation but my talk was a bit like the following talk I gave:

“In the evening of 29 May 2018 Gilbert spoke for the Rotaract Club of Beijing West, in a lecture hall gently provided by Beijing University. The audience of 45 young people listened to the story of two major projects Gilbert was involved in, to understand how the Chinese administration works and how one can succeed in “Mission Impossible” through perseverance, innovation and continuous learning. One project explained how subway building resumed in China in 1998 through his success in getting Shanghai Line 3 approved by the central government. The other case explains how Gilbert received the challenge to look for funding for the 2008 Olympics, to build the major venues, and how the contracts were awarded.
The two projects are part of his seminars on how to do successful lobbying in China.”
(I still need to write a post about it… see the picture)

The other speakers

Johan from the embassy welcomed us all and Tina hosted the rest of the meeting. Snacks were sponsored by TRB and beers by Duvel Moortgat.

Two other seasoned expats with an impressive career presented their story:
Pol Castermans, Sales Director, North China at Duvel Moortgat – Beijing, China
Kris Van Goethem, Managing Director MICE, LEISURE & SPORT at Thomas Cook – Shanghai, China

Ghent University alumnae in Beijing

Large turnout

On 17 September 2021 Ghent University alumnae in Beijing were invited for a celebration in the residence of our Belgian ambassador H.E. Jan Hoogmartens.
I am from Ghent, Belgium where I graduated with a master’s degree in electronic engineering in “UGent” in 1973. See the building I attended nearly every day for my engineering, in the Jozef Plateaustraat in Ghent.
And no, I was not the oldest student: a Chinese gentleman (former Tsinghua Arts Department) was the star of the lunch with his 91 years!
I was impressed with the large turnout, I still remember our modest dinner with Inge Mangelschots in 2017, Alumnae and the regional representatives from all over China attended Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou), we were a grand total far over 60 guests.
Indeed in the period 1977-2021 3,399 Chinese students chose UGent! In the year 2019-2020 there were 660 Chinese studying in Ghent.

The occasion was to celebrate 50 Years of Diplomatic Relations Belgium-China and 15 years of the China Platform of Ghent University.
See also the website:
Yes I am registered there!

Sadly with COVID-19 none of the Ghent University staff could join but we had video messages also from the Dean.

Hmmm lunch buffet

All happy to enjoy the buffet of Renaat Morel, plenty to eat, as well as Belgian beer and more was available.


Looking at the pictures you might get hungry!
Thanks to our ambassador for his hospitality!

Belgium’s First Fingerprint e-ID abroad

Gilbert as a test case

On 31 May 2021 I took part in the Belgium’s First Fingerprint e-ID abroad, in our Belgian Embassy in Beijing. With the time zones Beijing was a favorite location to try the new administrative procedure when it was launched worldwide, as the first in line. As I understand, not that simple as the data of the scans – picture, fingerprints, signature – must be uploaded to the system in Brussels and the whole process was not tested before.
See the official post:
Belgium’s First Fingerprint e-ID Abroad!
31 May 2021

If you have trouble opening the link, see here the PDF version: 210531 firstIDcard
I was gladly the test case. Overall it went very well, it was fun. The only hassle is to make the electronic signature, the machine is a nightmare as you don’t see what you are doing. I had to repeat more than a dozen times and settle for the less bad result.

See how the old ID card looked like, and the fingerprint process.
Next step is waiting for the new ID to arrive and to activate here the chip. In the past it could not be done in the embassy and I had to do it in Belgium during a visit.

My eID reader

My eID reader

I use the eID with this eID reader to have access to the retirement website in Brussels.

A European mess

There is still no European standard to have secure access to government or banking websites, accepted and used by the member states.
For ING Belgium I use a ING card reader. Every country has its own system, in Belgium it is called CSAM. In Belgium there are other options such as
About itsme:

“itsme” was approved in Belgium in January 2018 and the button itsme is visible on CSAM. ING Belgium also allows itsme. In December 2019 itsme was approved by the EU. However France imposes France Connect registration that cannot be used by people like me and does not follow EU standards. A real headache. It does not follow “eIDAS”.
eIDAS oversees electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the European Union’s internal market. It regulates electronic signatures, electronic transactions, involved bodies, and their embedding processes to provide a safe way for users to conduct business online like electronic funds transfer or transactions with public services.

Belgian community in Beijing

In Morel’s Restaurant

As reported earlier our Belgian community in Beijing is getting more active.
The “BiB” was set up earlier, see: Launch of the Belgians in Beijing Club

On 26 November 2020 we all got together in Morel’s Restaurant. considered as our Belgian home far from home.
The Belgians will celebrate New Year’s Eve also in Morel’s, see the menu. For very personal reasons I will an “observer” will will drink a glass together.

On 1 January 2020 there were 1555 Belgians officially registered in China, according to the official figures of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Of the total, we have 1059 adults and 496 children (under 21), 560 female and 995 male. There might be more Belgian around, not registered with the embassy or consulate.

Vlamingen in de Wereld

There is a worldwide organization for Flemish people abroad, called “Vlamingen in de Wereld“.

We have since this year a local representative, Tina Heyninck, see her article here: “In Beijing is alles constant in beweging”.
On 15 December 2020 Tina launched the Beijing section with a reception graciously hosted by our Belgian ambassador in his Beijing residence, along with the FIT representative Marc Struyvelt.

I am not sure since when I became a member of VIW in Beijing, it could be from the mid-eighties. I am trying to check… Always happy to receive my printed copy!