Western Academy of Beijing book talk

Western Academy of Beijing (WAB)

On 30 November 2012 WAB organized a one day event, with the slogan “CHANGE”, the 2012 Global Issues Conference which involved all students in the Middle and High School. They had found me through my book’s website and invited me to talk for nearly one hour, to introduce my book.
It was a very different and unique experience for me, going to this enormous Western school complex in Shunyi – they have far over 1,000 students. Very modern, great atmosphere. Today’s kids don’t know how lucky they are, in my time things were really very “basic”, the least to say.
I first joined the opening ceremony in their gym which included over 800 middle school and high school students and teachers. See the crowd. The speakers were very interesting and I only felt pity I could not listen to the end and meet them. Their topics were pretty well related to the themes in my book.
My talk was in the Blu Theater. The student audience was from Grade 9 to Grade 12 – with an age range from 13 to 19 years old. All students were high school students and a mixture of female and male. The Grade 11 and 12 students mostly take Economics; Environmental Science and other Scientific subjects.

An international buffet

After that I joined the enormous buffet lunch, where the parents from many nationalities were offering dishes, snacks and more at their individual stands. The choice was just too overwhelming. Great idea, just noticed there was no Belgian stand – there was a Dutch table (bitterballen!).
I also bumped into my old friend Richard Liu who works there.
Great many thanks to Suzi Roberts, Lorraine Mc Mullen and Echo Cai, and all who gave me such a warm reception.

Book presentation to IsCham Beijing

In the Israeli embassy

On 17 December 2012 I was kindly invited for a book presentation to IsCham Beijing, to introduce my book Toxic Capitalism during the Beijing Annual Gathering and the inauguration of the new board members. IsCham: the Israel Chamber of Commerce in China.
Thanks to Fani Gurevich Bar, Ilil Bar Gat and all others for their assistance.
I had the opportunity to give a signed copy of my book to the ambassador, H.E. Matan Vilnai.


Speeches were given by the ambassador, Fani, Mickey Mushinski.
My talk lasted 43 minutes to introduce the main points of my book.

Pictures by myself and by IsCham.

Book presentation to six chambers!

Book talk at Face Bar

On 27 Nov 12, BritCham and the China-Britain Business Council organized my book talk at Face Bar (Gongti Nan Lu, next to Instituto Cervantes). Five other chambers also joined:  the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, SwissCham Beijing, Bencham, the Italian Chamber, and the Malaysian Chamber.
It was announced as follows:
“Book Presentation – Toxic Capitalism: Are we the last Generation on Earth?”.
Author Gilbert Van Kerckhove joins us for the book presentation to give us a review of his thought provoking new book, “Toxic Capitalism the orgy of consumerism and waste: are we the last generation on Earth?”
The book centers on the world’s economic, environmental, governmental and social problems and what we need to do to fix them. Living in China Gilbert became alarmed by the dramatic pollution levels and the impact of Toxic Capitalism, an unwelcome strain of capitalism that thrives on over consumption and indiscriminate wastage, promoted by the West with the help of questionable companies, financial institutions and governments. China, as Factory of the World, is facing depletion of resources and roams the world to satisfy its voracious appetite for energy, raw materials, and food. How serious is the environmental destruction? Is capitalism fundamentally wrong? How did we come to this madness, and what can we do to preserve the future of our children?
We need to combat the idolatry of consumerism and fight for our goals: quality & durability, saving resources and energy. We simply consume too much and too quickly: too many gadgets, too many clothes, too many consumer products we either use little or even never at all. We waste too much, including food.
Quality & durability is not limited to consumer products. We need it in governments, services, companies, and financial institutions. We have to change our lifestyle.

About the author

Gilbert Van Kerckhove, is from Belgium and graduated as master in electronic engineering. Since 1980 he has been working with China, where he spent 27 years, mostly in Beijing but also in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
He is the president of a Beijing-based management consulting that provides strategy guidance to foreign and Chinese companies.
Since 2000 he has been assisting the Beijing Municipality in the areas of economic studies and foreign investment promotion. He has received the highest Chinese awards for his role in the 2008 Olympics, including the Chinese Green Card. He considers Beijing his home.

Good turnout

I had a diverse audience of at least 35 people. I gave a 60 min. presentation and we then started a lively debate.

Thanks to Liang Heng (Swisscham) and Clare (DLA Piper & Charitarian) for the pictures.
Clare also posted a very nice review on the Charitarian blog (thanks!):
I had brought some few copies and they were all quickly gone.
Thanks to Hayley Thomas and Russell Brown for the logistics and hosting me!

Comments on my book

Thanks for the comments!

I really appreciate comments on my book. See here some:

26 November 2012
Dear Gilbert,
I picked up your book yesterday evening and could not put it down.
It is an insider’s guide to why we need to ‘make do and mend’ in China and beyond.
You have a wealth of experience on China unavailable to those who have not ‘lived’ their subject.
Your logical approach to this issues of environmental degradation are a welcome break from the mainstream hyperbole on the topic.
I will look for avenues to promote your book.
Kind regards,
Clare Pearson
Corporate Responsibility Manager (Asia) – DLA Piper

7 October 2012
Dear Gilbert,
I have just finished reading your book. The book is full of very interesting data (you must have a wonderful database). I have enjoyed it a lot. I agree with most of your premises, although I believe that i might be a bit difficult to change the behavior and attitude of government, corporations and people unless there isn’t a critical mass of people asking for products to be of more quality and durable. I was surprised to see (maybe because I didn’t think about it before) that electrical vehicles not necessary would be more environmentally friendly.
Xavier (European Chamber)

Interview with China Daily Europe

Good job

It is always a challenge for a journalist to get the details correct of my rather complex past (and present). The journalist Meng Jing did a pretty good job for the interview with China Daily Europe and with the article, I am obviously overall happy, also with the word on “Toxic Capitalism”.

See the PDF version: 121116 Caught in the blame game
See the online version:

A few corrections:

– I did not obtain the soft loan for China’s Henan Pingdingshan power station project; the contract and the financing deal were the reason I was hired and sent to Beijing to open the rep office.
– I worked for Siemens in Brazil; in China I worked for Alcatel and Alstom.
– My trip to Brussels with the European Chamber of Commerce in Beijing was not to attend the 15th China-EU Summit in Brussels but to have meetings with the EU Commission; some of the Chamber people did attend the Summit.
– I have now stopped going to the “nightclubs” in the Gongti Strip and favor my KTV sessions…
– And my home office has three floors, not two.
Can’t blame much the journalist. Can be kind of confusing.