9 November 2021 Rotary talk on digital assets

Dinner meeting in Schindlers Sanlitun

For our 9 November 2021 Rotary talk on digital assets we had as speaker Cici Lu.
Topic: Insights and outlook for digital assets

Highlight of the talk

Cici Lu, Senior Partner of Apollo Capital Asia – an Australian leading crypto asset manager. Cici was born in Beijing, her schooling and career brought her to Canada, the UK, briefly in Australia and now Singapore. Prior to joining the crypto asset management industry, she had over 10 years of institutional banking career, specifically in investment banking, FI & FX trading across 4 continents. Cici would love to share us her unique perspective on crypto assets as tools to enable UN Sustainable Development Goals to create a more inclusive and efficient world
Topic: “Crypto Assets as Tools to Create a More Inclusive and Efficient world.”

For many digital asset uninitiated who are often confused by all the fuss and the spectacular rise and fall of Bitcoin or the haute technological power of Blockchain, Cici Lu, a Beijing native, educated in Canada, has built a career in IB across four continents and now works as an asset manager for a Singapore-based Crypto asset fund, Apollo. In her talk, Cici put all confusions to rest and painted a simpler picture of digital assets and how those assets could change the way we conduct financial transactions in the future. Cici explained how fast-growing innovations in cryptocurrencies have created a new asset class that has grown fast to become the new darling among financial products. In her plain and easy-to-understand presentation, Cici explained the difference between Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies. Fueled by the development of Web 3.0 to be built on blockchain technology, the trend toward Decentralized Finance, DiFi, is gaining traction.

Compared to the traditional Web 2.0 which powered apps like Google, Facebook, and Amazon and allowed them to harvest profits from consumers, Web 3.0 on Blockchain provides enhanced security, better transparency, instant traceability, increased efficiency and speed, as well as automation via smart contracts. While blockchain and crypto have become popular vocabularies, few understand the differences between them. Blockchain is an open-source public ledger on a network that runs on cryptographic consensus. When participants validate their trades on the blockchain, they then ensure the integrity of the ledger, and the more validated trades on a blockchain the more participants will use this blockchain and thus allow the blockchain to scale. So those validating traders are rewarded with additional crypto assets.

The recent flurry of introductions of Smart Contracts, referring to transactions by self-executing digital agreements governed by software codes, fueled even more imaginations for future financial products. Available on many Blockchains, those smart contracts, accessible via computers or smartphones, can provide financial features of borrowing, lending, and even supply chain management. Those smart contracts are executed through payments using the native tokens of that blockchain, so the more people use this blockchain the more valuable those tokens become.

Currently, $275 billion, twice the HSBC market cap, is locked in DeFi smart contracts protocols and this number is fast growing. Cici finished her presentation by illustrating the importance of positive social impact and financial inclusion blockchain and smart contracts will bring to communities worldwide.

26 Oct. 2021 Rotary talk on learning to fly

Mosto in Nali Patio, Sanlitun

For our 26 Oct. 2021 Rotary talk on learning to fly we had as speaker Daniel Zhang on the topic: “Joy of Flying”.

Food was reasonable but I was not convinced by some of the dishes.
Another weak point: the private room is pretty noisy and listening to the talk was not made easy.

Highlight of the talk

Flying is the new freedom! At the October 26th meeting, Rotarians and guests got to find out what it was like to take off on wings, piloting an airplane. Private aviation has not been easy in China, but Daniel Zhang, who studied aviation in the US, came back to China to start Enjoy Fly Club. EFC gives private flying lessons. Piloting a single-engine propeller plane might not take you across borders in the new pandemic world order, but it does take you off ground to new heights. Sharing his passions for flying, Daniel also told a story of his 85-year-old customer Wang Deshun who recently completed his pilot license. To a room of sitting-behind-desks Rotarian executives, this was a flying challenge.

12 October 2021 Rotary talk on red wine in China

Schindlers Tankstelle (Sanlitun)

For our 12 October  2021 Rotary talk on red wine in China we had as speaker Jessica Davis. Her topic: “Red Wine in China”. See some of the dishes!

Our Rotaractor Sophie received thanks for helping out for the paperwork related to our project of hypospadias, see: https://www.beijing1980.com/2017/04/13/hypospadias-surgeries-need-support/

Highlight of the talk

After graduating from Purdue University in the U.S., Jessica, like many young people looking for foreign adventures, came to the Middle Kingdom, initially intending to stay for one year. Now 11 years later, Jessica has moved from being an MBA student and later to a TV host for a travel show, to now a wine specialist and marketer for Ca’Del Grevino, a Santa Maria California winery with Italian roots. Jessica started the talk with a general introduction to the history of red wine in China, which has grown exponentially in the past 20 years, and made China the world’s largest market for red wine by 2014. In the past decades, red wine has catapulted from being an inferior western import to the darling of the rich and powerful class, and rare wines from the world’s famous wineries have become status symbols. But Chinese thirst and consumption for expensive wines have been thwarted by the anti-corruption campaign starting in 2013, and also by the punitive high tariffs due to the recent trade wars. Imports now make up 40% of wines in China, with France leading the imported varieties, ahead of Chile, Italy, and Spain, whilst Australian and US imports have been hurt by the high tariffs in recent years because of tensions in bi-lateral trade.

But Jessica’s talk was more than the description of the phenomena of red wine conquering the Chinese palate, it was the rare tasting and elaboration of Pinot Noir, an expensive grape that was hard to grow and cultivate, because of its very thin and delicate skins. She brought two Pinot Noir for her talk. The 2019 Grevino Bambola Pinot Noir was a bit young but was 100% Pinot Noir, smooth with a fruity flavor. The second was a 2013 Red Carpet Pinot Noir, an outstanding wine with an aroma of cherry, ripe plums, and spices. Stored for 10 months in a French Oak Barrel and hand-harvested and hand-sorted, only 150 cases of this Red Carpet Pinot Noir were produced, and only 4 bottles were left in China. France, California, Australia, and New Zealand are the major producers of Pinot Noir.

John van de Water talked to Rotary

14 September 2021 dinner

Architect John van de Water talked to Rotary during our dinner in Schlinders Tankstelle; a very interesting presentation on the topic: “What Design Can Do”.

Dutch architect John van de Water is co-founder of NEXT architects Amsterdam [in 1999] and NEXT architects Beijing [in 2004]. Over the years, NEXT projects has cultivated a strong name in contextual and innovative design. John has received numerous awards, such as the biennial ‘Top 100 most influential architects in China’ by Architectural Digest magazine in 2017 and 2019. In his talk: ‘What design can do?!’, John questioned the concept of sustainable design for China. What kind of design could that result into for existing and future cities?

See the China Rose Museum, now closed that was the main venue for the ‘World Rose Convention 2016’. It is located exactly on the Beijing Central Axis.

The “chicoree salad” was disappointing (chicoree? where? is it supposd to be endive?) but the pork escalope was very good. And by the way, try their pork ribs, the best in Beijing.

More about John van de Water from NEXT Architects

In 1999, four fresh out of school young Dutch architects, after four months of traveling and research, inspired by the architectural and structural innovations in many major cities, set up an architectural firm, NEXT, in Amsterdam, with a mind to create the next generation of architecture. While the young architects explored and experimented with building and furniture designs in its early days, a 2004 email to invite this young architect firm to participate in the forthcoming Beijing Olympics, changed the fate of the young firm, as well as some of the city landscapes in the following 17 years in China.

In his insightful talk, John recounted the cultural clashes, the bewilderment, the encountering, and then navigating within alien culture and business practices. On his arrival in China, John was awed by the long history of the cities he traveled to, like Luoyang, and also by the massive transformation from rural villages to metropolises at breakneck speed, like Shenzhen. In the end, it was a narrative of his eventually adopting and integrating the alien cultural and business practices with his western training and methodology. By sharing many of his design concepts, John demonstrated that architecture was more than just designing and constructing buildings, but it was a process of exploring space and its surroundings, incorporating functionalities and utilities, creating conveniences for and accommodating the habits of the human occupants, and eventually a sustainable design concept that can embed local cultural characteristics.

See: http://www.nextarchitects-china.com/ (under construction)

Rotary Beijing in Summer part 2

17 August 2021

Here Rotary Beijing in Summer part 2! Back in Kempinski Hotel for our Tuesday lunch meeting. with a remarkable set of speakers, Charles and Kate Wang on the topic: “An Amputee’s Road to Full Recovery: A Personal Story”

This moving speech was about two people, who through personal experiences, witnessed and understood the challenges facing the amputees in China and took it upon themselves to provide the needed help. Charles, originally from China but sent away to the US at an early age, became a specialist in prosthetic rehabilitation, after received training from Duke and Northwestern University and worked at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in the States. Upon his return to China, he saw few people with disabilities, but the statics betrayed the true story of 3-5 million amputees.

Many were fitted with subpar prosthetics, and many of the younger amputees numbered 100,000, were fitted with ill-fitted adults’ components. There were no programs to help those amputees to regain their mobility or psychological counseling to deal with the aftermath of being amputated. They had been shunned and tucked away, neglected and ignored. Most of those amputees, after being deprived of their limps, were also denied education, jobs, or a normal life. So Charles teamed with Georg Hoffmann-Kuhnt, the prosthetics specialist from Germany and a long-time Beijing resident, to set up Morning Star to provide full-body rehabilitation, a facility very much lacking in China.

Kate, Charles’s wife, a native of Sichuan, was a teacher and trained as a dancer before losing both of her legs, as a result of having been buried under the rubbles for 30 hours during the Wenchuan Earthquake. After she recovered, Kate started a long journey of rehabilitation. While Kate recovered from the amputation, she found that many children were not so lucky. Many of those young children had difficulties adjusting to a life with disabilities and they could find no help, from the adults around them or society at large. There were no systematic programs in China to help people with disabilities to return to society, and Kate recounted many stories of the systemic prejudice and inconveniences many of the amputees faced. Kate was sent to Canada where for the first time, she was shown that being an amputee with well-fitting prosthetics, she could be who she wanted to be and do what she wanted to. She could swim, ski, run, and to her delight, even be taller, from having a height boost from her new legs!

The most important part of a leg prosthesis is the part that contacts the body, and this has to be handmade and fitted individually. At Morning Star, amputees, both adults, and young children are given professionally fitted prostheses, and importantly, they are given a second life to enjoy swimming, dancing, and other playful pursuits.

The two couples, Charles and Kate, Georg and Michelle, with their understanding of what amputees face in this harsh and hard society, are now devoting their professional expertise to providing professionally-made prostheses and supporting programs to help the amputees to rehabilitate, and recover their lost meaning of life.

24 August 2021

A small but cozy fellowship in Morel’s Restaurant, as many members were away or busy.

Teddy and Eddy joined the happy evening

31 August 2021

Another Kempinski lunch, with the induction of our new member Ralf and as speakers Celyn Bricker and Faye Lu on the topic “Protecting wildlife while staying at home”.

See an overview of their talk.
I enjoyed the mushroom soup and the roulade. Well done.