Voices on China back to publications

On the occasion of the largest trade mission ever sent to any country – headed by HRH Prince Philippe – and on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Belgium and China, the Flanders-China Chamber of Commerce (FCCC) publishes a book with interviews of famous Flemish, Chinese and other personalities covering a wide range of topics related to China.


The Chamber asks them how many times they have visited China and what major changes they have witnessed in that emerging Asian power. Some have visited China only a couple a times and are amazed at what they have discovered, eager to visit the country again at the earliest opportunity. Others lost count as the number of visits runs into the hundreds, and they still can’t get enough. One thing everybody agrees on is that China is changing at an extraordinary speed and to keep up with it one cannot postpone the next visit for too long.


Following a foreword by Steven Vanackere, Vice Premier of the Belgian federal government and Minister of Foreign Affairs; and an introduction by Bert De Graeve, Chairman of the Flanders-China Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Bekaert, famous  personalities talk about their experiences in China, the successes and pitfalls of doing business there and what we could learn from the Chinese. The “Voices on China” presented here are diverse: from Chairman of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht to CEOs of Flemish companies who have proven to be successful in China. Bert De Graeve, CEO of Bekaert; Christian Reinaudo, CEO of Agfa-Gevaert Group; Marc Van Sande, Executive Vice-President Energy Materials of Umicore; and Wim Buyens, Senior Vice-President Entertainment Division at Barco; talk about the differences in business culture between Belgium and China, about measures to further improve trade and investment between the two countries; and about what it takes to be successful in China.


Jonathan Holslag, Research Director at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, in a wide-ranging interview, covers China’s rise as a world power and the challenges it faces to become No 1. He also gives his informed insights into the next generation of Chinese leaders, which will assume office following next year’s 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.


Chinese investments in Flanders are increasingly important. Li Shufu, Chairman of Geely Holding, which recently took over Volvo, talks about the future of green cars and how to solve China’s traffic problems. Liao Liqiang, the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Belgium, who only took up his post a few months ago, covers all aspects of the relations between the two countries. He recalls the visit to Beijing by Queen Elisabeth in 1961, a decade before the establishment of diplomatic relations. Two Chinese captains of industry, Chairman Jiang Jianqing of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Chairman Chen Feng of Hainan Airlines, talk about the financial and aviation industries respectively.


Rounding out the book, Belgian Ambassador to China Patrick Nijs, says in his afterword: “Concluding such an impressive compilation of highly informed comments on China is a great honour.” The Ambassador points out that Belgium was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China following the first unofficial visit to China by then U.S. National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. Ambassador Nijs notes that “We have been at the forefront, setting up joint ventures with a genuine commitment to their ‘joint’ nature.”


The “voices” assembled in this book shed a new light on China. “We hope you enjoy listening to them,” concludes FCCC Chairman De Graeve.


The book is bilingual English-Chinese.