Your President in China, February – April
The following are a few lines on society business I did during my recent time in China.
- Late February I visited Harbin for the ICE and TROPICS Tour. I found that it was unseasonably warm and the ice was beginning to melt – need to go a week earlier.
- Out West to Shandan, Lanzhou, and then back to Baoji and Xian. Continuing discussion with partners there. Shandan needs a consultant/teacher in Agriculture. Xinxing needs two volunteers to contribute to the ‘marginal children’ project we have there. In Baoji, also visited the site where the cave factories from 1938 are being renovated and prepared as a historical site. In Xi’an met a past HMQ scholar, and our current scholar.
- Went to Jiangxi, and in particular, Ganzhou, to further the RAFE-funded Revive Rewi cooperative project. Rewi Alley had a stay of several months here in the late 1930s.
- In Guangxi, met our very first HMQ scholar again after a period of 8 years. Explored the Liuzhou area for inclusion in the Ice and Tropics Tour. Especially enjoyed the “Strange Rock Museum”. Visited Guilin, and met with the Guangxi Institute of Botany. They have a high level phytochemistry department that would be able to assay traditional medicine plants if a Pacific project evolves from the fund available to the Pacific China Friendship Association.
- Visited Hangzhou for three nights. Visited Alibaba and met with John O’Loghlin, seeking some support from there for our GongHe training programmes. They have an extensive site there employing 33,000 people. Also met a young French-born Chinese woman, who is part of Alibaba’s initiative to train young leaders for the extension of Alibaba. They have a programme to take Alibaba to the villages. Currently 30,000 villages have easy access to e-shops for ease of purchasing.
- As a member of the GongHe executive, I attended the quarterly meeting in Hubei Province. In recent years, a number of work stations have been establishing around the country. Kathleen Hall was also mentioned by several of our hosts. We all did a side trip to Xi Xiao Bei, near Shijiazhuang, where the Communist Party leaders set up in the final months before their victorious entry into Beijing in 1949.
- Went to Beijing and introduced a TV producer to Michael Crook, and Yulin, chair and vice chair of Gong He. He has a TV production company and is associated with the Jiangsu Cultural Bureau there, and is doing a documentary series on Rewi Alley. He was not very familiar with Gong He history, so we were able to help him with that. He heard a few stories, and learnt of some old people who worked with Rewi Alley that he should meet.
- Met with Wen Powles, now deputy at our embassy in Beijing, to update them on connections with a model New Zealand farm in Shandan, as we need some assistance from them to get expertise there.
- Went to Shanghai, and collected books recently produced on the Kathleen Hall story by our Hamilton branch. This project was funded through our RAFE programme. Copies of the book will be made available to all branches. Also met with Shanghai Youxie (briefly) and Gong He. Gong He are involved in a local district in Shanghai that is preserving the historical European buildings and their famous occupants, mainly in YuYuan Avenue. Rewi Alley rented number 147 Yu Yuan Road from 1932 to 1937.