CHINA, JULY 1995

Date: 
09/07/1995
Country: 
CHINA

9 July 1995
Tsaolang Hotel, Beijing. I am back in China but this time for something completely different. Many things have happened. I am in China with the BBC, Arthur Anderson, Ken and Colin to do a film on my work here. This is very nice and I look forward it. Tomorrow we are going to meet my friend Guo Tingshuang. The next trip is going to be to Kenya, directly from here. Eventually we all got through, the passport controls wit the filming equipment but what a struggle. Tonight we are going to a Beijing duck restaurant – excellent food. There will be much to discuss in the next few days I am here.

10 July 1995
What a day – it started excellently and finished excellently. It started at the Ministry of Agriculture, Guo Tingshuang to explain the situation. In the late afternoon we were all interviewed and given the works. We then went to Tiananmin Square and got a few shots of Chairman Mao and bicycles etc and finished off at a banquet with the Ministry and later with a beer at the Hotel with Colin, Ken and Arthur, I rather like all of them.

Zhoko Guesthouse, Zhoko Prefecture in Henan. I have been here before. It has been nice to meet so many good friends here. We first had a banquet at Zhengzhou capital of Henan and then drove all the way to Zhoko, I took some pictures in between of the intensive production systems in the Zhoko area. We met with all the people I know in the evening with a great session of Gang Bei (Chinese word for bottoms up) etc. Today was a real working day and I feel happy about it. I had a sinking feeling when we got to the country with five cars turning up that it was going to be a circus as it has been before. How will the small farmers react to this? But it wasn’t like that, in fact they all got out of the way and we had a fantastic time getting pictures with the farmers. I refuse to take pictures on large farms because they are totally unrepresentative. So again tonight we have had a banquet with Yuan and Guo who were here.

13 July: We are now in Anhui Province, Fushang Prefecture; we came here yesterday. Filming is going very well. I have just had a 20-minute interview about life in China and in general. The crew was happy – and they are very critical, if it is not good enough I have to repeat it. We saw a lot of field work, just the sort of things I like to picture as an Asian feature. In the morning there are so many people in the field. Then for about 4 hours there are no people at all. The hotel is an old place where rich people used to be. I had four rooms at my disposal, entrance for guest, writing room, bedroom and bathroom with stairs up to the bath. The Chinese garden was splendid and Arthur Anderson felt that it was a very appropriate place for an interview. It is a very exciting trip. The Chinese are giving us exceptional support.

15 July 1995
We are now back in Beijing. We had another day filming in Fushang Prefecture – great stuff. On the way back to Anhui we had a very bumpy five-hour drive but on the way we found exciting filming material – grain being dried on the road, buffaloes wallowing, cropping integrated with fruit. The previous day we visited the market. I must have eaten something which was not good for me, or overate on watermelon. I had terrible diarrhoea in Anhui Hotel last night but fortunately it is now better. Arthur gave me some tablets he had brought. Vie Minh took me out to visit a couple of new places in Beijing. She came to collect me from the hotel. I gave her a wedding present because she has just got married. She took me to a place called Mini-world and the other representing life of Chinese minority ethnic groups. The Mini-world was quite nice, it was a reproduction on a mini-scale of the important cities and sights of the world including the Whitehouse, Big Ben, Taj Mahal, Borobudor, London Bridge, The Leaning Tower of Pisa etc. Having seen most of the real things the miniatures are not so impressive and it was very hot indeed. We then went to the other place but it was very disappointing and totally unfurnished and yet very high entrance fees, twice more for me than for the Chinese. I wish we had gone to the Summer Palace or somewhere similar instead. We joined up again with Yuan and his wife and Guo and his wife for a final banquet without the film crew, it was very nice. We went up to see Guo’s flat, he lives in a small flat although he is in fact a famous Director of Chinese feed industry.
We are now on board a British Airways flight going from Beijing to London. I left this morning and many of our colleagues took us to the airport. They are excellent young folk. We are all going to London but in London I have to stop and change for Kenya Arthur Anderson thinks it is the best film he has ever made for Landward. I just hope they are not making me too glamorous and make sure that the Chinese are getting the credit for all they have done.
The film is in fact called Orskov in China and was of course shown on BBC Scotland even more than once. Still popular and show the progress of the straw treatment from when it was started in 1986 and in 1995 they told us that 6 million farmers were using it, Rapid uptake of a simple technique but suitable for small farmers .