Senegal: 56 years of independence

April 13th, 2014

On 4 April we participated in the celebration of 56 years of independence of Senegal, in the China World Hotel.
We accompanied one of our major clients, China State Grid Group, to meet with diplomats from Senegal, where we are currently looking at projects.

We also met several with other diplomats and ambassadors, one being my Rotarian friend Jean-Claude Apithy from Benin.
I am always impressed with the large crowd, the absence of Western guests and … the good food.

Exploring the recycling villages of Beijing with Radio France

April 13th, 2014

In my book Toxic Capitalism I mention the vast recycling network in Beijing, some being officially sanctioned, some being done by rather mafia-like operations.
Radio France, after reading my book, invited me to explore together one of the major villages in the north of Beijing, well after the 4th ring road; the radio interview was done walking around and in the taxi on our way back.
We went on a sunny Saturday afternoon, with Philippe of Radio France and Luca as our valuable guide and translator.
I was at first not that at ease as the people in those “garbage villages” do not like foreigners nosing around. We decided not to run around with cameras in hand, though Philippe shot some good pics with his mobile, I myself made one shot of the truck piled up with carton.
The village we visited is just immense and we walked around in just a part of it. Pretty impressive how the Chinese have built a small industry in recovering and recycling anything that comes to mind: plastics of all kids, styrofoam, water containers, fire extinguishers, office carpets, mattresses, aluminum, iron, steel, electronics, batteries, wood, paper, name it. All a bit messy and dusty and we were lucky it was not windy and not raining.

Thanks to Philippe for his pics. See the people dismantling the LED publicity panels, recovering plastics, metals, electronic circuits and all. I was also happy to see the recyclers are using a machine to mechanically remove the insulation from copper wires, and not burning them as it often happens.
Seems nothing gets “wasted”. We chatted with some of the workers who ended up being very friendly and we did not encounter any problem.
We were looking in particular to the batteries, a problem for the environment as the vast majority of batteries used in e-bikes and other equipment are still acid-lead type batteries. Some of the batteries still were filled with the liquid, others were dry, others were sealed.

What is BIMBA?

April 13th, 2014

BIMBA: International Programs of the National School of Development – Peking University,
Beijing International MBA (BiMBA). Every year I meet the MBA group from Vlerick Belgium for a Q&A session “All the Questions You Have About China (and you did not dare to ask)”. Usually done as a small panel, with Prof. Tony, and they last for at least 90 minutes.

I love the sessions as they can be challenging, letting the students ask whatever they feel like. Students are not only from Belgium, we had also some people from Russia, among others. See here the session on 10 April in Beijing University.

Strange Chinese brand names for bread

April 13th, 2014

At home we buy some of our bread in the Chinese supermarket, and from a Belgian baker. The two local Chinese brands have, well, a bit of colorful names: Mankattan and Wekipedia.

Despite the strange names, pretty OK otherwise. And see the picture, otherwise you might think I made it all up!

A review in Italian of “Toxic Capitalism”

March 31st, 2014

See here the review of my book “Toxic Capitalism”, in Italian, by our well known friend Davide Cucino, President of the European Chamber in Beijing:

Thanks Davide. Now I just need a crash course in Italian to understand the fine details…