China and The World

Gilbert on CGTN

Here is the online link of the “China and the World” documentary. CGTN broadcasted it at 11:08 am on 27 December 2019, and replayed it at 03:08 am on 28 December, and it also launched it on the CGTN new media platform. My part starts from 18:25 to 20:58. Renaat Morel is also featured. As you can see the “answers” I provided and were retained are not that close to the questions. As a matter of fact many of my comments were not considered, too much self-censorship… I even taught they would not show me… maybe I said too much with honesty…
The link works on Safari, not on Firefox in my case.

https://s-url.cgtn.com/m/fDFHIA

The questions

See the introduction by CCTV, CGTN is the international channel of CCTV.
To celebrate the 70 anniversary of PRC, CCTV is making a special documentary about the personnel exchange. We would like to invite you to join us to talk about China’s development and the exchanges between China and the rest of the world from the perspective of foreigners.
Questions:

  1. What is your initial impression of the Chinese people? Where does it come from and what new discoveries have been made after dealing with the Chinese people?
  2. What are the characteristics and cultural differences of Chinese people studying and working abroad?
  3. Among the Chinese studying abroad, a considerable proportion of them remain working and living abroad. Is this a drain of resources or a channel for China to export influence?
  4. What changes have China’s national image experienced since the 1970s? In your opinion, what aspects of China’s influence on the world are the most significant?
  5. In your opinion, what does reform and opening up mean to China?
  6. Compared with the 1990s, more Chinese graduates have returned to China for development. What’s your take on that?
  7. Nowadays, many foreigners come to China to work and start businesses. How far is China from becoming an international human resources market?

Visiting my office

On 22 August 2019 the CGTN team visited my office where part of the interview was shot. Later we walked to Morel’s Restaurant where we had lunch.

See the pics at my office and screenshots of the online interview. Some nice shots of myself. They used another angle to shoot, unlike all other TV crews.

Global Talents Exchange Association

Friendship Hotel

On 22 December 2019 I was invited by the Beijing Global Talents Exchange Association for their yearly event at the Friendship Palace (Friendship Hotel). Good to meet several old friends, including Michael Crook I had not seen since … 2009.
Also pictured: Song Peng and Ding Zhifeng (Executive President and Secretary General of BGTEA).

The program of “Talents Forum & Global Talent Summit 2020”:

Award-giving Ceremony – Global Talent Meritorious Honor Award for Isabel Crook followed by her birthday celebration (104 years young!).
BGTEA Ambassadors Awards: Michael Crook, David G. Evans, Erik Robert Nilsson.
Distinguished Foreign Experts Awards: David Feng, Vassilia Pirierros, Terry Crossman and others.
Unveiling “Beijing Home from Home for Foreign Friends by Michael Crook.
International students’ performance and Foreign experts’ performance (Mark Levine and others).

The event

We first had a buffet dinner where I met several familiar faces…
The event was immediately featured on CCTV4, and the clip was shown on screen.
Fu Han was one of the hosts and performed with Mark Levine.
Ding Zhifeng gave a (long) report on the BGTEA activities.

Beijing Global Talents Exchange Association

BGTEA (Global Talent Association) is short for Beijing Global Talent Exchange Association is registered in Zhongguancun, and approved by the civil affairs department as a national organization. Under the strategy on developing a quality workforce, BGTEA aims to facilitate exchanges and cooperation of talents, technologies and high-tech projects, develop an innovation-driven country and offer intellectual support for progress.

BGTEA was initiated by 7 institutions, including Beijing Normal University, Beijing Keda high-tech Ltd., etc. Since the foundation on March 30th, 2015, We have made many achievements, gathered experts on global talents exchange and high-tech projects, reserved a bunch of overseas elites on science and technology.
Website: http://www.talent.org.cn/public/index.php/index/en/index

I am member of the (Foreign) Advisory Committee of Experts.

Zhejiang Yuexiu University

UWEE BRITF in Shaoxing

On 20 April I left for Zhejiang Yuexiu University in Shaoxing, Zhejiang, along with William Spiers and David Li (UWEE). See about BRITF here.

After landing in Hangzhou a car brought us to the very large and impressive campus where we stayed in the model hotel and restaurant, operated by the students of YIHA (Yuexiu Institute of Hospitality Administration), located within Zhejiang Yuexiu University of Foreign Languages, 2801 Qunxian Road, Yuecheng District, Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province.

We had breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Milan Restaurant, and coffee in the coffeeshop. We had the opportunity to taste a variety of dishes, and coffee. All very well done by the student staff! We gave them feedback also on how to improve some details. The menus are all hand-made… Cute…

About the university

Zhejiang Yuexiu University of Foreign languages is financed by a private Chinese biomedical group that also runs some five-star hotels (Marriott and other).
It has two campuses, this is the new one, with 10,000 students, the other campus counts 7,000 students.
It is a brand-new campus with modern buildings, state of the art class rooms, very modern, integrated microphone system, many screens.

It includes YIHA, YueXiu Institute of Hospitality Administration, 1200 students. It offers two undergraduate International Bachelor Degree programs: International Hospitality Management and International Events Management. Tuition fee would be about RMB 20,000 per year. Dormitory cost some RMB 4,000 per year. Total of four years. Extensive internships included.

See their introduction: YIHA Standard PresentationIPAD

The Library

We visited the impressive Library building with all possible facilities, see the pictures. We wondered if any university in Europe could boast having something similar.

Later on I donated my two books to the library.

The seminar

On 21 April Easter Sunday we first met the dean of YIHA, Georges Ubbelohde (from Belgium!).
The International Seminar on Internationalization and localization of Event Education invited dozens of universities and colleges event management leaders from all around the country to discuss ways to promote the development of event education in China so as to nurture more international event professionals.
Seminar was followed by a group photo in front of the Library.
Organized by: Zhejiang Convention and Exhibition Association; Zhejiang Oriental Convention and Exhibition Industry Research Institute; Zhejiang Yuexiu University of Foreign Languages.

Keynote speeches:

– William Spiers: “Internationalisation & Localisation of Exhibition Education – INTERNATIONAL VISIONS AND FEELINGS”
– Gilbert Van Kerckhove: ” International Exhibitions – Do’s and Don’t”

We later had lunch in the university canteen, huge and so clean.
In the afternoon we were given a tour of the library and campus, with Evelyn (Hangzhou), Holy and Chen. In the rain. The campus also has several shops and small restaurants.

Sightseeing

We were spoiled by our two guides who took us around Shaoxing City on Monday 22 April. We learned they were selected after a competition involving some 100 candidates. Impressive, flattering…
First came Shen’s Garden, with a history of over 800 years. Known for the love story of Lu You and Tang Wan.
Later Lu Xun hometown, his birth place and home.
Later I will post more pics of the sightseeing part.
After lunch in a local restaurant we walked around and had a boat trip.

After our return to our hotel we had coffee and met a Chinese lady author,  Fiona  who was introducing her book about coaching.
To close the day we had a great dinner in Shaoxing CBD, SIJIFENGQING XUNWEI Restaurant.

My view on the Belgian mission

The mega mission

I already gave a short overview on the visit. Here my view on the Belgian mission, personal observations.
As I was rather unhappy with the way preparations were carried out and what happened, so I skipped the huge reception in Kempinski Hotel in the evening of 18 November. I did not miss much, too many people, the VIPs too far away, no contact.
Anyway I already had met the Princess, on 5 September 2008, in the embassy. See one of the pictures (in wheelchair Tennis player Marie Annick Sevenans) and a media article:

Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium, accompanied by Prince Lorenz, will arrive in China for a few days. Her main objective is to attend Saturday’s Paralympic Opening Ceremony and wholeheartedly encourage the 20 Belgian athletes participating in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. The Princess will personally attend the wheelchair tennis competition on  Monday, September 8. Ms. Julie FERNANDEZ-FERNANDEZ, State Secretary for the handicapped, attached to the Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health, will also attend the Paralympics and will represent Belgium at the Closing Ceremony.

And I met earlier Jan Jambon as mentioned, thanks in part to Peter Ritzen.

Media comments, in Dutch

Achter de schermen van handelsmissie China: “Wij maken geen stofzuigers, onze technologie kunnen ze niet snel kopiëren”
https://www.vrt.be/vrtnws/nl/2019/11/18/achter-de-schermen-van-de-grootste-belgische-handelsmissie-ooit/

Achter de schermen van de Belgische handelsmissie in China (deel 2) : peren, studenten én voetbal
https://www.vrt.be/vrtnws/nl/2019/11/21/achter-de-schermen-van-de-chinese-handelsmissie-peren-voetbal/
In Shanghai is de Belgische handelsmissie in China afgesloten. Meer dan 630 deelnemers trokken 5 dagen door het land in de hoop een nieuwe afzetmarkt te vinden voor onze producten en expertise. Maar wat gaat dat op termijn opleveren? En was zo’n missie wel gepast op het ogenblik dat het democratisch protest in Hongkong de kop in werd geslagen?

The hacking

The hacking story received a lot of comments, some found it to be naive and out of context. Of course we know the Chinese will hack and spy but the “expert” proved to be rather naive indeed. See comment from VRT.

Just curious I checked my desktop (iMac) that is pretty well protected by its firewall and other basic tricks. Yes, there were some attempts of intrusions but overall it seemed pretty lame. See the screenshot.

As for the impact, I have my doubts.

Yes, a mission led by the Princess can indeed open doors and has a positive effect. However:

– Such a big delegation floods the Chinese administration and business world. As a result meetings can be too superficial and unfocused, and done in a rush.
– Many still have unrealistic and naive expectations in this market. A lot of noise concerning a “new platform to import Belgian products such as beer, cookies, Belgian fries and other”. Good luck with that. Many tried, most failed for a variety of reasons I don’t want to explain here.
– The proof will be: let’s see after one year what became of all the “signed deals”.

Preparation of the mission was in my view disappointing. People with proven local expertise were ignored. No further comments.

TV interview

I was interviewed by Bart Aerts of VRT NWS, we finally agreed on the location: Morel’s Restaurant. I understand the interview would come out in February 2020.

Present were Renaat Morel, Bart Aerts, Karl Lagatie en Vlad Vanderkelen.

Belgian mission to China

A mega delegation

In November 2019 a huge Belgian mission to China of business people and government officials invaded Beijing and Shanghai. Numbers for the participants were officially far over 600 but I heard even larger numbers.

The official list:
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 and in the presence of

  • HE Didier Reynders, Federal Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs, and of Defence
  • HE Pieter De Crem, Federal Minister of the Interior, Security and Foreign Trade
  • HE Jan Jambon, Minister-President of the Government of Flanders and Flemish Minister for Foreign Policy, Culture, IT and Facilities
  • HE Willy Borsus, Vice-President of the Walloon Government and Minister of Economy, Foreign Trade, Research and Innovation, New Technologies, Agriculture, and Urban and Spatial Planning
  • HE Pascal Smet, State Secretary of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for Urbanism and Heritage, European and International Relations, Foreign Trade and Firefighting and Emergency Medical Assistance
  • HE Marc Vinck, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium in Beijing

High-level meetings

From the media:
On 18 November 2019, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan met in Zhongnanhai with Princess Astrid, the representative of the Belgian king and princess.

Wang said that the Chinese government warmly welcomes Her Royal Highness to lead a large economic and trade delegation to China. The Belgian Royal Family has long been committed to Sino-Belgian friendship In recent years, the successful exchange of visits between President Xi Jinping and King Philip has greatly promoted the development of bilateral relations. Belgium has a unique location and distinctive economic and cultural characteristics. At present, exchanges between China and Belgium at all levels and in all fields are developing. The all-round friendly and cooperative partnership maintains a high level of operation. Practical cooperation faces new opportunities. We hope that the Belgian royal family will continue to play an active role in implementing the important consensus reached by the two heads of state and taking China-Belgium and China-EU relations to a new level.

See also “Belgian Economic Mission in Beijing” by BelgiuminChina,
Link: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/PrpZXR2GK7ibPWXF73Nibg
Or for those unable to connect:  191118 Belgium_mission

The hacking story (media articles in Dutch)

Waarom willen de Chinezen onze handelsmissie hacken? En moet u als toerist voorzorgen nemen? 5 vragen en 5 antwoorden.
De Belgische handelsmissie die deze week naar China trok, werd massaal aangevallen door hackers, zo blijkt nu. Omdat de delegatie goed was voorbereid, kon er gelukkig geen informatie gestolen worden. Maar waarom proberen de Chinezen informatie te ontfutselen van België? En loop je als particulier ook gevaar om gehackt te worden in China? Vijf vragen en vijf antwoorden van Tom Van de Weghe, die vijf jaar correspondent was in China en zich specialiseerde in cybersecurity en artificiële intelligentie aan de universiteit van Stanford.
https://www.vrt.be/vrtnws/nl/2019/11/23/waarom-willen-de-chinezen-ons-hacken-vijf-vragen-en-vijf-antwoo/

en ook:

23 November 2019 – Economische missie in China slachtoffer van massale cyberaanvallen
Bron: Belga
https://www.knack.be/nieuws/belgie/economische-missie-in-china-slachtoffer-van-massale-cyberaanvallen/article-news-1535447.html

23 November 2019 – Buitenlandse Zaken ‘op de hoogte van problematiek’ van cyberaanvallen in China
Bron : Belga
https://www.knack.be/nieuws/belgie/buitenlandse-zaken-op-de-hoogte-van-problematiek-van-cyberaanvallen-in-china/article-news-1535555.html

My comments.

I will comment in another post, soon.