May 20th, 2013
On 15 May my mother-in-law Shi Qi (born Shi Lei) passed away, after a long and difficult illness. She was born in 1932. Her husband, Sun Yang, perished in the Cultural Revolution, along with his sister Sun Weishi – both famous. She is survived by her two sons and one daughter (my wife).
The funeral was held at Babaoshan on Friday 17 May. Personally I hate funerals because I get too emotional; I was by far not the only one.
The whole process was also a new experience. I thought we were supposed to be in white. No, we had to wear black. Seems that now it is black in the big cities and white in the countryside.
An unexpectedly large group of people turned up. New for me, they brought “white envelopes”, opposed to the hongbao (red envelopes) at weddings; cash is inside. The people who leave their condolences: their names are written on white silk-like ribbons that are the fixed on the wreaths; the flowers turned out to be nearly all in plastic. I thought, re-usable. Wrong again in part: the ones hanging on the wall were indeed “rented” but the other ones, mostly of the family, were bought. After the ceremony we headed procession-like to big incinerators were the real flowers were fed into a shredder to make fertilizer and the plastics were burned along with the white ribbons.
Once the room was ready, with the others waiting outside, the close family lined up. They rolled in the coffin, opening it showing the lady. Then the visitors were led in, lined up and shook our hands. Then, people paid respect to the deceased and the son Mingming put most of the manuscripts of Shi Qi with her. She had requested that the manuscripts be burned along with her body. She also was a writer, earlier she was a professor teaching Chinese in Renmin University.
Then they closed the coffin and took it away to the incinerator.
We went to a restaurant nearby and had our lunch, with a really huge fish head dish, one of the favorite dishes of grandma. The first portion was put in a box as an offering to her.
After the lunch we headed back to Babaoshan to collect the bones. I thought it were ashes, wrong again – bones. At Grandma’s request her bones will be thrown into the river in Harbin, where she was born.
Valerie being her only real grandchild she had the special role to carry her picture. Her wreath was also at a different place, at the end of the coffin. In a rather strange procession, the red bag with bones was carried to the car and it was Valerie receiving them and taking them into the car.
And then we simply drove away. The red bag is for the time being in one of Sun’s brothers’ home, in a makeshift altar.
The pics show most of the ceremony.
Thanks to all who showed up and who showed their sympathy.
May 20th, 2013
Today I talked to 24 MBA students from Rutgers Business School, The State University of New Jersey, at Novotel Peace in Beijing. The usual 90 minutes, with lively interaction from the students. Organized by ISP, with Denisa running the visits and seminars.
Group leaders from Rutgers: Prof. Chao C. Chen, Management and Global Business and Mr. Vincent Ogutu. Both received a copy of my book.
May 19th, 2013
One more talk to a group of Dutch managers from AOG, led by Philip Wagner, director of the Wagner Group.
The seminar was again held in a small and cute hotel, well hidden in an old hutong:
“DuGe Courtyard Boutique Hotel”
Quanyuan’ensi Hutong 26 (between Jiaodaokou Nandajie and Nanluoguxiang))
Quiet little spot with friendly staff and good wifi.
The theme of my 90 min. talk: general (and very personal) intro on China, its people, business, the dramatic changes, the today challenges; my book Toxic Capitalism; a view back on the Olympics. Plus showing an “Olympic interview” (TerZake, July 2012) where I was featured.
May 18th, 2013
Every year I try not to miss the AGM of the Bencham, the Benelux Chamber of Commerce, Beijing. Once again the meeting was held in the offices of the Embassy of the Gran-Duchy of Luxembourg, Pacific Century Plaza on Gongti Bei Lu. For those who don’t know, Benelux stands for the 3 countries Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. We formed one single chamber as Belgium and Luxembourg would have too few members on their own.
Always a good opportunity to meet old and new friends and … to have a nice Belgian beer!
See also some pics from one of the many events: Fairmont Hotel, 14 March 2013, announcing the results of the Sino Belgian Business Survey 2013. Pictured are, among others, Rik Van Droogenbroeck (Minister Counsellor) and Hubert Cooleman (FIT), both of the Belgian Embassy.
May 16th, 2013
See the article “Don’t kid yourself that electric taxis are green” by Tom Holland in SCMP:
I do not fully agree with Tom Holland but he does raise some valid points. We need indeed to look at the global ecological footprint. But saying no to e-vehicles is wrong. Their technology needs to improve and most important is to tackle the batteries. In the case of e-bikes in China, those are actually not green at all, because of the lead acid batteries. Lithium batteries are also still needing a better approach. As for the energy mix and the promotion of e-vehicles, read “Toxic Capitalism”: contrary to what most believe China is making serious efforts to increase the use of non-coal/oil based power stations, with renewable energy, natural gas, nuclear, etc. (leaving aside the issue of nuclear here). Trying to demonstrate a diesel or gasoline car is better is like trying to say, wind turbines and solar are bad. I personally and officially recommended the use of e-vehicles for the city of Beijing in the 12th Five Year Plan; the recommendation followed, except for some further incentives I had listed.