Probus club hears of China trade fair in 70s

Club member Bob Munro was the speaker at Ellon Probus August meeting.

A Newcastle University graduate, Bob initially trained as a precision engineer but later assumed an ambassadorial role attending international trade fairs to help boost business for UK exporting companies. His talk centred on experiences gained during a trade fair in Peking (now Beijing) in 1973.

Post World War II China had established itself as a communist country cloaked in mystery and secrecy to the Western World. At that time international trade was limited and foreigners were regarded with a suspicion similar to that held by foreigners towards the Chinese.

In the 1970s there were no scheduled airline services between China and Europe and only limited telephone communications.

The trade fair took place following the ending of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-69 - led by Mao Zedong) when everyone was classed as universally equal in status, pay and dress.

Delegates were accommodated in modern buildings but the perimeter was manned by armed security guards. Efforts were made to supply western-type food and delegates were taken on ‘official tours’ to see the local culture and sites of interest, but always accompanied by their Chinese-supplied interpreters.

However, there was a universal harmony, understanding and co-operation to solve problems - the Chinese engineers at the event were no different. Fred Crawford gave the vote of thanks. The next meeting is on September 12 when the speaker will be Charles Fox.