Belgium: How to survive under the siege of European powers

Regardless of its small size, Belgium has an area of ​​30,000 square kilometers, which is equivalent to the size of two Beijing cities and a population of 11 million people.

Geographically, Belgium ranks C in Europe and is known as the “crossroads of Western Europe”. It borders the Netherlands to the north, France to the south, Luxembourg to the southeast, and Germany to the east. The headquarters of the European Union and NATO, located in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, are at the heart of Europe and play an irreplaceable role in this new crown epidemic. Most of the medical supplies from all over the world have to be transferred from Belgium to European countries.

Sandwiched between the powers of Europe, Belgium has always been a buffer zone for EU bigwigs to wrestle with each other. For this reason, Belgium has always been in a neutral position in the international arena, with a weak sense of national belonging and no unified Belgian language. To the north is the Dutch-speaking Flanders region, to the south is the French-speaking Wallonia, and a small part of the German-speaking area in the southeast corner. On the other hand, the integration of this multi-national economy and culture in this location has created the existing diversified and international characteristics of Belgium. The capital Brussels has nearly 900 important international institutions, and numerous international conferences are held here every year. Belgium is also a major producer and producer of French fries and gems in the world.

Since the modern industrial revolution, Belgium is truly an industrial power, relying on coal and iron ore to make a fortune. It is the first country on the European continent to build a coherent railway network, with logistics advantages such as railways, passenger transport, and freight aviation. Nowadays, the petrochemical industry and the port economy are being developed in line with the trend. Among the top 500 multinational companies operating in Europe, 60% of the supply chain centers are located in Belgium.

Belgians live a very thorough life

Because of its neutral position, Belgium has always been influenced by the powers of France, Germany, and the Netherlands. In the eyes of many people, Belgium is like a transit country in Europe. Even for budget-conscious Belgians, driving an hour’s drive to Germany on weekends to buy food and refueling to neighboring Luxembourg has long been a trick to saving money.

The temperament of Belgium is often not in the grand narrative, but in the grassroots self-recognition of civilians. Except for Belgium, there is probably no second country that will regard a “pee boy” as a national hero.

Legend has it that Yu Lian, who was the leader of explosives, was doused with a soak of urine, wit and bravely to save this historic city of Brussels from the destruction of war. To commemorate him, the Belgian gave the “First Citizen of Belgium” the honour to Little Boy, and erected a statue in the city center, which became a world-famous national business card.

“The Adventures of Tintin” was also born in Brussels. Belgian cartoonists are number one in the world, and cartoons are part of Belgian life. Belgians grew up almost watching the works of their own cartoonists. On the tourist map of Brussels, there is a cartoon route with a length of 3 kilometers. Comic walls, comic museums, and cartoon shops can be seen everywhere. If you talk to Belgians, you will find that the self-deprecating humor revealed in their speech and behavior is the best material in the comics.

Belgium, which has always had no sense of national belonging, hides a strong sense of self-identity among the people. This sense of identity does not come from outside admiration, nor from the heroic deeds of big people, but from small people like French fries, Pissing Boy Julien, and Tintin. Compared to other European countries, Belgians seem to attach more importance to the spirit of civilians and self.