Old China Hands 8 October lunch

One week later

Our Old China Hands 8 October lunch saw 29 attendants, one week later than normal because of the 1 October holiday.
A special event as a crew of five from BTV (Beijing TV) is making a documentary with me and wanted to shoot a bit during our lunch. Some of our OCH were interviewed.
The BTV people came to my home office around 9 am, went to the lunch, went back to my home office after the lunch. They left 6:30 pm and I was really exhausted. The joke I made, they shot about anything except me going to the toilet. Curious to see what they will make of it.
I don’t have good pictures of their shooting day as I was alone at home.

Other shooting planned soon, along with our Dutch architect John, see:
“John van de Water talked to Rotary”, https://www.beijing1980.com/2021/09/22/john-van-de-water-talked-to-rotary/
No idea when it will be finished and shown.

Great get together as usual and all happy with company and the food.

The documentary

The theme of the documentary is the “Beijing Central Axis”, also about myself and about John. The shooting plan was first discussed in my office on 19 September 2021.
Today many people even don’t know what it means. I was involved with the idea during the preparation of the 2008 Olympic Venues. See the pic from Beijing This Month magazine.

I also have the detailed study done in 2002 by the German architect Albert Speer Jr. for the Beijing Government

Albert Speer Jr. was a German architect and urban planner. He was the son of Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler’s chief architect before assuming the office of Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich during World War II. His grandfather, Albert Friedrich Speer, was also an architect. Wikipedia
I met him in Beijing in 2005 and he wrote a very kind thank you letter for the meeting. He passed away in 2017.

Next lunch

The next lunch is planned for Friday 5 November. Stay tuned!

Little Leopard went to space

VHS tape

As I mentioned the VHS tape, there was another section at the end: Little Leopard went to space. As it is on that 1984 tape I assume it came on TV that year. Strangely enough when I researched the story, it was apparently only “known” in 2018. Weird!
See the SCMP article:

‘China’s secret 1960s mission to send two dogs into space”
25 February 2018
Academy reveals how it selected the animals and strapped them into tiny, windowless capsules mounted on rockets for a journey they somehow survived
Stephen Chen in Beijing

It is Little Leopard

As maybe many cannot reach the article, see a PDF of an edited version. Read the original for all details.

180225 dogsinspace

Comparing the screenshots and the pictures, it is clearly Little Leopard and not Shan Shan.

See the screenshots, with the brave dog being prepared for launch, placed in the rocket and welcomed back on earth. The launch was apparently on Friday 15 July 1966, on a secret military base in Guangde county, Anhui province.

1 October 1984 Military Parade

Gilbert in Beijing

I witnessed the 1 October 1984 Military Parade for the 35th anniversary of PRC, the first in 24 years. After 1984: 1999 (50th anniversary); 2009 (60th anniversary – with me!); 2019 (70th anniversary).
That time I was working and living in the West Wing of Beijing Hotel, with my office in suite 5087.
The hotel had asked us to leave a few days ahead,  as on the day of the parade we could not leave, we could not open a window nor stand “too close” to it.
I decided to stay. It was a unique experience. Armed with my camera I stayed on a chair to look over the balcony at Chang’an Avenue below. Security was all over the parking lot, armed with binoculars and scanning the windows. As expected, they saw me and soon got a visit to “behave”. I didn’t.

Parade and fireworks

In the evening I was able to see the fireworks on Tiananmen from my balcony of my bedroom (5109), that had a great view on the Forbidden City and Tiananmen. That room and balcony no longer exist as a new hotel was built next to the West Wing. As far as I can reconstruct, I then went out to Tiananmen and shot more pictures there.

Ah I miss those times. Tiananmen had zero barriers, you could walk over there any time of day and night. I even remember I rode my Vespa on that square! (yeah I had an embassy plate…).
The pictures of the fireworks are great, already at that time China was a master in doing it. No need for fake stuff on TV screen (like for the Olympics fireworks…). It was all real.

VHS tape

I recovered the VHS tape with the full coverage of the 1 October 1984 Military Parade. The quality is poor, I actually assume it is a copy of the original VHS tape done by a friend, see some screenshots. Mind you that was some 35 years ago… different technology today!
Interestingly the images do not have any CCTV or BTV logos! I was wondering, is the tape that bad or was there really such a horrible pollution?

Yes, pollution was terrible that day. At that time nobody paid attention to something called AQI as we never heard about it. I guess AQI was way above 500.

The pictures

The proof was with the pictures I took that day, see the scans, all enhanced as much as possible. It’s a thick haze. Most of the time it had a sulphur smell (and color). I still have tons of old pics to scan, and to find back the negatives.

Pretty interesting to see those images of 1984, the people, the trucks, the soldiers, the floats, the TV presenters. On 1 October 2009 I was myself in the parade, on a float. Our daughter was running besides it with other young people. Somehow things change little, somehow things change a lot.

Madam Chen Muhua

I saw Madam Chen Muhua in the movie (she is not listed below). She was a remarkable person and I had a lot of respect for her. I also met her at one point, I forgot when. But she did visit the company in Charleroi I was representing in China: ACEC. Another great lady I met a few times in person was Vice President Wu Yi. Sadly, I don’t see ladies like that today in the government.

Chen Muhua, Vice Premier – State Councilor. She also served as Minister of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade. The veteran Communist Party of China revolutionary, the second female vice-premier, held several other key posts including state councillor, Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress vice-chairwoman and All-China Women’s Federation president. In 1985, she became the People’s Bank of China governor and was credited by some as a pioneer of China’s financial reform.

The leaders

1984 leaders present – Government top:
President Li Xiannian
Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping
Premier Zhao Ziyang

Parade – Leaders in attendance

  • Hu Yaobang (General Secretary)
  • Li Xiannian (President of the PRC)
  • Deng Xiaoping (CMC chairman and Conference chairman)
  • Zhao Ziyang (Premier, official master of ceremonies)
  • Other Politburo Standing Committee members and Politburo members
  • Deng Yingchao (widow of Zhou Enlai)
  • Li Ximing (Party Committee Secretary of Beijing)
  • Chen Yun, First Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
  • Peng Zhen, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress
  • Deng Yingchao, Chairwoman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference
  • Ulanhu, Vice President of the PRC
  • Xu Xiangqian, the 4th Minister of National Defense
  • Nie Rongzhen, the first and only Commander-in-Chief of the PLA
  • Prince Norodom Sihanouk (see the pic)
  • Son Sann, 22nd Prime Minister of Cambodia
  • Khieu Samphan, Chairman of the State Presidium of Democratic Kampuchea
  • Hoàng Văn Hoan, former Vietnamese Ambassador

Watch (with comments in Cantonese) the parade (Youtube, needs VPN):