Lieven's Blog

What's on my mind...

The Chinese man and a confrontational view on the BHV problem

Clipboard with Pencil_16x16Being a Belgian, I come across quite some people in different countries that ask me about the current problems with the Belgian government. This is one example of such a conversation.

About a year ago I was talking with a Chinese man in Shanghai. He asked me where I came from. I told him that I am a Belgian. He told me that he knew very little about Belgium, but he had heard that there was no government, and he asked me if that was true. I confirmed that it was true. I didn’t know this man, but he seemed to be very interested in the topic and he asked me if I could explain him why there was still no government. People who know Belgium, know that this is a quite challenging question. How to explain this to someone from another culture? So I made it very hard for myself and tried to explain what the Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde (BHV) problem was. In short, this is a dispute over rights and privileges of Flemish and French speaking citizens in the bilingual constituency of the district Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde. It is a political dispute that is going on for decades. After I was talking about 4 or 5 minutes about this, the Chinese man stopped me kindly and said:” Now, I know enough about your country.” He continued: “You must come from a very rich country...because if this is the kind of problems the politicians in your country invest so much time and energy, your country must be very rich.”

Is very confrontational but there is much truth in his argument. (283 words)

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