(Reporter: WAN Jianhui) In March 2018, the CISM Executive Commission assigned two liaison officers, GAI Xiuqing and GAO Song, to the Headquarters of the International Military Sports Council (CISM) based in Brussels. They would serve as out-posted “messengers” for the preparation of the 7th CISM Military World Games.

At 11:00 am on June 25, when the Reporter contacted from Wuhan with GAO Song by WeChat, he answered in a sleepy voice: “It’s 5 a.m. in the morning…”

The time difference made the work of the two “messengers” not as “glorious” as people may have imagined.

Socializing is part of the job

The International Military Sports Council is the largest military sports organization in the world. It is the first time that Chinese are stationed here. The two liaison officers are responsible for bilateral liaison and multilateral coordination in Brussels as tasked by the Executive Commission, focusing on the “Two First-class” goal of the preparation of the CISM Military World Games. While fulfilling the tasks of the Executive Commission, they used every opportunity to publicize the 7th CISM Military World Games and promote China’s voice.

GAI Xiuqing is a Military Liaison Officer of the Executive Commission of the 7th CISM Military World Games. He used to serve in military and administrative offices of colleges and universities for many years, and has led teams to international competitions and exchanges. He is now a member of Naval Pentathlon CSC. GAO Song is from the Foreign Affairs Office of the CPC Wuhan Municipal Committee. GAI Xiuqing is the leader of the two-person team.

The CISM Headquarters is located in a 4-story European style building on Rue Jacques Jordaens in Brussels, with an attic and a basement, and a small garden at the back. GAI Xiuqing and GAO Song work in the building during the day, and live at a place about 2 kilometers away. It is about 4 stops from here by tram.

Officials and staff of CISM come from member countries. They speak various mother tongues such as French, Dutch, Portuguese, Swahili, Polish, etc. But English is the working language, and hence the two liaison officers have no language barriers for communication.

GAI Xiuqing said, China is a big country with five thousand years of history. CISM officials and member countries all have high expectations of the 7th CISM Military World Games. They believe the 7th CISM Military World Games will be a top-notch and most successful event in the history of CISM Military World Games with the best organization and most participants.

After a year working here, GAO Song and GAI Xiuqing have made friends with many CISM Officials. Dorah Mamby Koita, the Secretary General of CISM, is from Guinea. He was first elected Secretary General in 2014, and was re-elected in 2018. He has been working at CISM since 2007, and had served as an official in the Africa Liaison Office of the CISM Secretariat. When young, Koita went to a school which was built with Chinese aid. He likes China very much. He has always said to GAO Song that, without China, he would not have been what he was now. China is a friend of Africa.

David, Division Chief of Media and Communication Dept. of CISM is from a sports family. When young, David received professional football training, and used to work at FISU. David said that he had been to Wuhan last year. He like dry noodles very much and had lots of them while he was in Wuhan. When returning home, he even bought some packed dry noodle at Tianhe Airport.

Coordinated ‘Water Getting’ Lustered Hankou Evening Party

Thinking back to the work in the last year, Gao Song said there were several things impressing him.

In last August, after the invitations of the 7th CISM Military World Games were sent out, Gao Song immediately reported the related situation to CISM and asked the CISM officials to remind all the countries of enrolling for this event and deliver the invitations to those countries having not received the paper ones when the CISM President and Secretary General attended the European meeting and African meeting of CISM and representative of CISM headquarters attended the Individual World Championships of CISM, etc.

“Until October 18, 2018, the deadline of the first enroll for the 7th CISM Military World Games, there had been 93 countries signed up for this event.” Gao Song said, this figure can show the attraction of the 7th CISM Military World Games.

September, Gao Song received a notification from Wuhan, in order to coordinate the Director’s creativity for the one-year countdown evening party of CISM, they needed to get the water samples from the main rivers on Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States, these four continents (there has been no a member state on Oceania), as the symbol of unity of all the CISM athletes in the world. The water samples needed to be sent to evening party in Wuhan and the video on the site getting the water would be also played on the evening party.

As there had been water samples got by Chinese soldiers from Yangtze River, Gao Song immediately asked Wuhan side to provide the specific requirements and video sample, and then contacted many member states of CISM and got the support of delegates of each country stationed in the headquarters of CISM, and finally determined the other three sites for getting water and the undertakers after more than 10 days of close contact and communication.

On October 18, 2018, the one-year countdown evening party of the 7th CISM Military World Games was held on the river beach of Hankou, four soldiers from China, France, Tanzania and Brazil put the 4 pots of water respectively got from Yangtze River, Nile River, the Danube and the Amazon River together, the videos of getting water were also very touching, being one of the highlights of the party.

Friendship and Principles

GAI Xiuqing said that they may have different opinions or even conflicts when working with foreign colleagues due to the differences in working habits and styles between China and foreign countries. But with the principle of good relationship, liaison officers take different attitudes based on specific work issues.

In order to complete the tasks assigned by the Executive Commission, they carried out their work in a peaceful manner and maintained good working interaction with staff from other countries. They work with Wuhan Executive Commission by actively coordinating foreign parties through collective meetings, individual exchanges, regular meals and tea breaks, etc.

GAO Song said that Chinese people are hard-working. In order to finish a job, we can give up our time for rest, and work overtime or on weekends. While foreign colleagues generally don’t want to be disturbed by work-related problems after working hours, and they are not willing to make adjustments to the existing work schedule.

The preparation of the 7th CISM Military World Games is fast-paced and time-efficient. In order to overcome the differences they encountered in Brussels, they explained the urgency and significance of the work on the Chinese side in a sincere manner and tried to find ways to cooperate with foreign colleagues. After working hours, GAO Song and GAI Xiuqing contacted them via email whenever possible, as well as via SMS or social media. Sometimes, they also organized activities as friends, and invited CISM staff to participate, and discussed their work in a friendly atmosphere to fulfill their mission.

Laborious but Joyful

It’s been a short time since GAO Song came to International Military Sports Council (CISM). The Secretary General asked him to participate in a friendship match with other CISM teams of Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas as a member of the headquarters football team.

On the eve of last Christmas, CISM Headquarters organized an activity: each person bought a gift for his colleagues, but the person to whom it was given was not clearly informed. Instead, a computer program was used to describe the characteristics of the recipients; only on the day of the event, did the descriptions be released, so that everyone could guess who the gifts were intended for; if the participant thought that he was the owner of this gift, he could stand up and get it. After the start of the activity, due to the fact that deliberately ambiguous descriptions misled people, there emerged many “wrong recipients”, causing everyone to laugh.

GAI Xiuqing said that it is both pleasant and difficult to work and live at the CISM headquarters. Because of the difference of time and vacation, there is a lot of extra work. As local small hours are the mornings in China, it is often awakened by phone or information during sleep. The holidays in China and Belgium are not in the same time. If either party is not on holiday, the liaisons have to keep working. For example, the liaison should deal with domestic work in Christmas holidays, and the liaison officers also have to go to work in accordance with the CISM schedule during the Chinese New Year and National Day holiday.

There are many difficulties in living here. When GAO Song arrived in Brussels, he had stomach trouble because of his inappropriate diet. Later, he and GAI Xiuqing learned to cook by themselves from scratch. Local water quality is poor, so they have to buy water from supermarkets. Moreover, as the surrounding areas are not well-ordered, evening outings are usually accompanied.

There is no lunch break abroad. The most frequent place for the two to go for lunch is a Chinese noodle restaurant near the CISM. Coincidentally, the owner of this restaurant is a native of Hubei. He is very happy to hear that his hometown is going to host the 7th CISM Military World Games. And he often adds a few more pieces of beef to their bowls. 【By WU JIE】