Touch Beijing

Gilbert on Touch Beijing

First of all more about the program. Touch Beijing is Radio Beijing international’s flagship news and current affairs program. It’s an English language show, which broadcasts live every weekday between 5-6pm from the studios on Jianguomenwai Dajie in Beijing. People in Beijing can tune into the show on 92.3FM and 774AM, but they also broadcast to listeners around the world through the website ( and various radio apps. Each day they invite different guests to join in the studio for an interview, either about a specific topic or their own experiences.

Not the first time

Many years ago I was regularly interviewed on the radio by my friend Bruce Connolly, mostly about the Olympics. Bruce is also a regular at our Monthly Old China Hands Lunch. But I was never in the studio, Bruce always interviewed me on the phone.

The interview

This time, Gilbert on Touch Beijing, was in the studio in the late afternoon of 13 November 2019.

See the pics, it was a fun interview. My hosts were Kat (UK) and Bryan (Beijing). Someone took pictures during the interview which proves it is better to have audio than video…
You can listen, skipping the first 30 minutes of the program:

All recordings:

The questions

See here some of the questions (edited) I received beforehand. Pretty much “the usual”.

  • What was it that first brought you to China?
  • Before you came to China in 1980, what did you know about the country?
  • You originally came to China with a Belgian group to help build a power plant. You then worked on a number of large scale projects (such as the Shanghai metro) and you set up your own company – Beijing Global Strategy Consulting Company. But perhaps the highest profile project you worked on was the preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. How did you become involved in that? What did your job entail?
  • I read in an interview that you never intended to stay in China forever, but you’ve now been here for over three decades (and have a coveted Chinese Green Card). What is it about China that has kept you here for all these years?
  • We could dedicate a whole show to the question “how much has changed since you first arrived in Beijing.” But are there any changes that have particularly surprised/impressed you during that time?
  • As if all of this hadn’t kept you busy enough – you’re also a marathon runner, a cyclist and a published author of two very different kinds of books – “Toxic Capitalism” deals with environmental issues, and “Laugh and Get Wiser” is a joke book! What are your plans for the year of the rat?

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