China Foreign Investment Law

Call for comments

A major Chinese news agency asked me for my comments on the China Foreign Investment Law, in the middle of March. I tried to give a more honest approach keeping in mind the concerns of the small and medium foreign enterprises. Their voice is mostly ignored in favor of the bigger companies who have little choice but to play nice and avoid controversial remarks.
Not surprisingly, auto-censorship on the Chinese side could not let my contribution pass. Only favorable comments were welcome. And I refused to sugarcoat the issues.
It is actually not very constructive to improve the business environment if any meaningful dialogue is banned.
The most important comment I had left out: “Why is there a need for a China Foreign Investment Law anyway?” If foreigners set up a legal Chinese entity in China, why a different treatment? In the E.U. such as in Belgium no such law exists.

See the comment from the European Chamber, part of the article “European Chamber’s Stance on the Foreign Investment Law”, see

More than anything else, foreign companies want equal treatment and opportunities, while not all of our concerns were addressed in this law, it is time to move forward. We will closely monitor the FIL’s implementation to ensure that it is fully respected at all levels of government and in all corners of this country.

My comments on the China Foreign Investment Law

See the full text here:  190315 foreigninvestmentlaw

What is acesulfame?

I already explained but just google it for more details.
The point I want to make is that this substance is not known and receives no attention. But the consequences of the ban have been dramatic for many foreign products entering China: all destroyed. You won’t read those stories in the press.

Dialogue is necessary

The European Chamber and Amcham, among others, are still keeping up their dialogue with the Chinese authorities to get rid of unfair rules and have scored progress for a range of products.
Also, the general feeling of Europeans (including me) is that China becoming a world power is not a threat as such; how it fulfills its role is another matter.

Much remains to be done to make the business environment open and fair. Indeed a painful issue is the unequal treatment of foreign businesses in general.
More about that later in other posts.

China International Talent Exchange Foundation

Who are CITEF, UWEE and BRITF?

As announced earlier, the Foreign Expert Committee under SAFEA was set up in September 2018, see here. The China International Talent Exchange Foundation was mentioned but other organizations are involved.

To clarify all the different names, see the following document: 190511 CITF-BRITF

More about China International Talent Exchange Foundation

Website (Chinese only):

Chinese: 中国国际人才交流基金会
See also the following article:
China International Talent Exchange Foundation
2 June 2017
The China International Talent Exchange Foundation is a non-profit organization authorized by the Chinese government to provide services and support for international communication and cooperation between talented individuals. The foundation is managed and guided by SAFEA. Its funds, used for that purpose in government departments, enterprises, research institutions, and civil organizations, come from government funding and donations from the public. The foundation is in charge of obtaining, managing and operating the funds, employing foreign experts, organizing overseas trainings, supporting research and development of high-tech industries, and consulting services for international communication.

The Belt and Road International Talent Fund (BRITF)

In order to speed up the international talent exchange and cooperation in the China’s international education industry, enhance the social and economic influence of China’s international education, and support economic globalization, industrial internationalization and the development of new Internet economy, Union of Western Eastern Education (UWEE) and China International Talent Exchange Foundation (CITEF) have jointly established the Belt and Road International Talent Fund (BRITF).
Fund size: 50 million RMB

That is another OBOR…

Immediate focus

The Belt and Road International Talent Fund (BRITF) – Foreign Experts Committee has as Rotating president: Gilbert Van Kerckhove.
Initially a lot of the activities will be focused of universities and special events.
Recent activities: in Beijing, Shandong province and Zhejiang Province. Later more on those.

Foreign Expert Committee under SAFEA

Setting up of the Committee

On 18 September 2018 an official meeting was held to set up the new Foreign Expert Committee under SAFEA.
SAFEA: State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, one of the most powerful organizations in China handling foreign experts.
In the meeting Mr. Wang Lishe, Director of the Project Development Department of China International Talent Exchange Foundation of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, and Mr. Yan Fei, Member of the International Talents Fund of the China International Talent Exchange Foundation, Mr. Li Licheng, the director of the special fund, and Ms. Yang Huan, the deputy director of the special fund, attended and listened to Mr. Gilbert Van Kerckhove’s work introduction on the preparatory stage of the foreign expert committee and the future development plan of the committee.

Introduction of the Foreign Expert Committee under SAFEA

The members of the foreign expert committee are mainly international friends who have won the China Friendship Award. The first batch of 20 members, the first rotating chairman is Mr. Gilbert Van Kerckhove, and there are 7 standing committee members.
The complete title:
Gilbert Van Kerckhove
China International Talent Exchange Foundation
Belt and Road International Talent Fund – Rotating President, Foreign Experts Committee”
State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs
See here the official report in Chinese and in English:
180918 SAFEAmeeting

More to come

I will post more background information on the organizations involved in a following post.
The Experts have started to act and reports will be shown in coming posts.

Expats witness China’s changes

China Daily event

On 12 December 2018 China Daily organized an event in The Bookworm “Expats witness China’s changes”, as China celebrates the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up. China Daily website invited over 30 foreigners to share their stories and insights.
The China Daily online article:

See here the PDF of the article: 181212 CDBookworm

The program and guests:
For the full program see here: 181212 ProgramBookworm

Main speakers:

  • Zhang Chunyan, deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily Website
  • Laurence Brahm
  • David Bartosch
  • Gilbert Van Kerckhove
  • Alex Chan
  • Hujjatullah Zia
  • Jocelyn Eikenburg
  • Bruce Connolly

Gilbert talking

The official topic and introduction:
2008 it’s an important year for China as Beijing held the Olympics successfully. To many who have watched or attended the Beijing Olympics did have great memory on it, some even remark it was transformative for the city and country. For our next speaker Mr. Gilbert Van Kerckhove, he was deeply involved in the preparation of the Beijing Olympics. He acted as a bridge between the Chinese administration and foreign governments, embassies and chambers of commerce during China’s preparation for the Olympics. Due to his achievements, he was honored with the China Friendship Award, and he was offered a Chinese “green card” in 2008. Now, we have Mr. Gilbert Van Kerckhove to share his 38 years experience during his stay in China.

The report from China Daily:
Gilbert Van Kerckhove is one of the earliest foreign business people to venture into China after its reform and opening-up. The 70-year-old Belgian business strategist has not only witnessed, but also played an important part in the country’s tremendous transformation over the decades.
In 2008, as Beijing prepared for the Olympic Games, Van Kerckhove acted as a coordinator between the Chinese administration and foreign governments, embassies and chambers of commerce.
Looking back on his memorable experiences of the 2008 Olympics, Van Kerckhove summarized the whole complicated effort in one sentence: “It was not only me — it was teamwork. It also illustrates that we foreigners can contribute to this country.”
Living in China for 38 years, Gilbert Van Kerckhove witnessed China’s great transformation. “In this respect, China has being pretty much planning ahead and being very forward-looking,” he said.
Due to his great achievements, he was honored with the China Friendship Award in 2005, and he was offered a Chinese “green card” in 2008.

Meeting friends

Was good to meet some friends who were there as speakers or VIP guests:
Laurence Brahm, David Bartosch, Bruce Connolly and Emanuele  Francia.

See here the pics, mostly from China Daily, others from friends and myself.

Kingston Business School China Tour

EMBA group of 32

The Kingston Business School China Tour visited Shanghai and Beijing for their Global Immersion Program, 1 to 9 May 2019.
This study tour exposed participants to the economic, financial, social and cultural issues in the country, giving them the opportunity to understand their economy and society and provides them with an insight into how to do business in China, considerations and the opportunities. It also provided exposure into some of the top companies in the world with unique perspectives on how they develop strategies within these peculiar and complex business environments.

Kingston Business School is a business school located in London, United Kingdom and a part of Kingston University. It counts 4,424 students.
See: Kingston Business School


On Monday 6 May Gilbert talked to the group for about 2 hours, including Q&A.
Location was 21st Century International School, arranged through UWEE. The school is really impressive and we could use their modern library hall.

The topic was the usual introduction of China today, “A(nother) view on China”.