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Asia NZ’s April media newsletter

Asia NZ’s April media newsletter


Kia ora, namaste. Welcome to the Asia:NZ’s April media newsletter. It’s been an eventful few weeks in which the most significant news affecting our region is the deepening diplomatic crisis between China and Japan, pushing tensions between China and Taiwan off the news agenda for the time being. Meanwhile, the leaders of India and Pakistan have been talking cricket and Kashmir, while at home, there’s been visits by the leaders of Malaysia and Indonesia, a kidnapping in Auckland and an expose on the sale of drivers’ licences to new migrants.

In this issue

- Why ASEAN matters to New Zealand
- Comings and goings
- Changes in Asian media
- What the Chinese media is saying
- Fostering links with Jakarta
- Influencing the policymakers
- China expert to visit New Zealand
- Asian tigers maintain rapid growth
- Strange images and unusual ceramic art
- Screening new Asian films
- New website feature

Why ASEAN matters to New Zealand

Visits by two high profile ASEAN leaders within a week of each other recently helped crystallise emerging foreign policy priorities and hint at challenges ahead for New Zealand’s policy makers.

New Zealand has long established ties to the ASEAN region, particularly with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. Southeast Asia has always been of strategic importance to New Zealand, but there is now an increasing emphasis on trade.

Free Trade Agreements are being negotiated with Thailand and Malaysia to accompany an existing agreement with Singapore. Australian and New Zealand negotiators have also begun talks to establish a region-wide ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA.

ASEAN expert Dr Anthony Smith believes that while commercial ties with ASEAN countries will be secondary to those with bigger markets, they will remain important and show strong potential for commodity trades, services, investment, tourism and education.

At an Asia:NZ seminar in Auckland last month, Dr Smith told an audience of business people, journalists, academics and diplomats that there were major opportunities for New Zealand exporters and investors in ASEAN.

“In terms of trade and investment liberalisation, we are perhaps at the beginning of a situation where ASEAN is forging networks with wider East Asia and maybe even South Asia.”

His comments were later underlined by an announcement during the visit by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi that talks were to begin on an FTA with Malaysia, New Zealand’s tenth largest trading partner.

Another speaker at the seminar, Celia Caughey of the ASEAN-NZ Business Council, said imports from ASEAN countries were growing but New Zealand’s exports to the region were stagnating or even decreasing in some instances.

With a total population of 544 million and a combined GDP of US$737 billion, “it is a market that New Zealand cannot afford to pass up”, said Ms Caughey, a former New Zealand trade commissioner to Vietnam. “It is amazing to me that we are not making the most of these growth economies and encouraging our exporters into them.”

She said the most effective service her office had offered during her posting to Ho Chi Minh City had been the preparation of programmes of meetings for exporters with potential agents, distributors and customers.

“If I were in government, I would publicise this service and make it free to serious exporters in key growth markets like ASEAN,” Ms Caughey said.

A third speaker, Michael Richardson, said a successful ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand FTA would ensure that Australia and New Zealand were plugged into the emerging economic architecture in Asia as other regional arrangements evolved. “It would be good economics as well as good geo-politics.”

Mr Richardson, who is based at the Institute of South East Asian Studies in Singapore and is a former Asia editor for the International Herald Tribune, said New Zealand should support any move to include it in an inaugural East Asia Summit to be held in Malaysia in December.

The summit, involving the ten ASEAN countries plus China, Japan and South Korea, might also include the participation of India, Australia and New Zealand, subject to agreement by ASEAN foreign ministers.

On his trip to Australia and New Zealand, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono supported the inclusion of Canberra and Wellington at the East Asia Summit.

Dr Yudhoyono’s visit was only the third time an Indonesian leader has travelled to New Zealand. The country is New Zealand’s 16th largest trading partner and a significant recipient of New Zealand government aid. Its economic and political stability has been of great interest to ASEAN and the wider regional community.

Michael Richardson said political and economic stability were two important reasons why Australia and New Zealand should sign the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.

“As partners of ASEAN, it would show that they accept maintaining an order that countries in the region are comfortable with. This would be another step towards regional integration.”

Mr Richardson said Australian obligations as an US ally and Canberra’s policy of maintaining its capacity to act pre-emptively against an offshore threat were sometimes seen as inhibitors to joining what effectively was a non-aggression pact.

“It would, however, be much the best outcome for both countries to accede”, he said. “As friendly neighbours, Australia and New Zealand should join the treaty because it would be a significant symbolic gesture of support for peace and stability in Southeast Asia.”

The Asia:NZ seminar entitled “Why Does ASEAN matter to New Zealand” was held in Auckland on March 31. A report by Dr Anthony Smith – formerly of the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu – was released at the seminar. The report, entitled “New Zealand-Southeast Asia Relations: A Survey of the Contemporary Relationship”, is available from Asia:NZ as well as speech transcripts. The report can also be accessed at www.asianz.org.nz.

Comings and goings

If you are planning an assignment in North Asia, get your application for a Media Travel Grant to Asia:NZ by May 18. The grant will cover 80 percent of the expenses for the two best proposals.

Meanwhile, journalists going on assignment in Asia with discretionary Asia:NZ support in April include Anna Claridge, Julie Middleton, Sharon Brettkelly and Simon Hartley.

Anna Claridge of The Press accompanied the family of Belinda Welch, a New Zealander killed by the Boxing Day tsunami at Khao Lak in Thailand, on their journey to return her remains to New Zealand.

Julie Middleton, a senior writer at The New Zealand Herald, will travel to Shanghai to meet a Chinese couple in the process of migrating to New Zealand. She will follow her Shanghai visit up with regular feature stories about the couple’s efforts to settle in New Zealand.

Sharon Brettkelly, a TVNZ ASB Business reporter, is on assignment in India to follow up Prime Minister Helen Clark’s visit there last year. She will report on trade opportunities between New Zealand and India, focusing particularly on information technology, film and biotechnology.

Simon Hartley, a business reporter at The Otago Daily Times, will accompany Dunedin mayor Peter Chin and a delegation of Dunedin city councillors and business people on an official trip to the Chinese sister city of Shanghai. He will report on the forging of new links between the two cities and review existing links.


"Australia is a proud and independent country, we're able to beat New Zealand at rugby, we thrash them at cricket and there is no reason why we should always do what New Zealand does. We're a more confident country than that.” Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer saying Australia would not sign the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation just because New Zealand would.

“Why won’t you turn yourself in since you have confessed? Everyone should take responsibility for whatever they do. If you are here for study, then do the hard yards; if you are here for work, then do your best at work; if you are here for gambling and losing money, then don’t do nasty things to the community.” Posted in response to an alleged Internet confession on the Skykiwi website, as reported in the New Zealand Herald.

Yudhoyono is a skilful, honest politician who possesses a remarkable intellect and will doubtless develop into a better president than all or most of his predecessors. But countries such as Australia should follow the lead of the Indonesian people themselves, and lower their expectations of what he is capable of achieving. Andrew Burrell in the Australian Financial Review on April 6.

Changes in Asian media

There has been a print casualty in Auckland’s intensely competitive Chinese media scene.

The New Zealand Herald last month reported the demise of the Independence Daily, one of the pioneering newspapers in the Chinese language media market.

A notice in English and Chinese in the paper’s last issue on March 5 thanked customers for their support and said "the time has come to re-evaluate the future of our publication in order to develop new ideas and broaden the depth of our reporting".

The publishers say the subscriber-based, six day a week newspaper was closing for up to two years but community sources say it is unlikely to return.

They say its circulation has been steadily declining and it faced fierce competition from about 12 other Chinese language publications freely available in Auckland alone. At its height, the Independence Daily, which was established eight years ago, had a circulation of 5,500.

Another of the paper’s problems was in delivering to subscribers on the same day. Most Chinese newspapers in the Auckland market are picked up by readers at regular distribution points such as Chinese supermarkets and other businesses.

Members of the Chinese community say they are disappointed because it was regarded as a serious newspaper with solid news and feature content.

The ethnic radio market is also set for a significant shake-up after the sale of the Radio Chinese AM990 frequency to an Indian buyer.

The managing director of the Ace Broadcasting Company which owned AM990, Eric Liu, says he is concentrating his station on the 90.6FM frequency. Radio Chinese, which has been around since 1997, has been broadcasting on both the AM and FM frequencies for the past year.

The change will take effect from April 28 and it raises the question of what happens next on the AM990 frequency. Could it be the start of a Hindi and Punjabi language radio station to rival Radio Tarana in the already crowded Auckland airwaves?

What the Chinese media is saying

By Flora Xie

The kidnapping of Kelly Zhao and the drivers’ licence scam have been the recent focus of both the mainstream and Chinese media in New Zealand.

Skykiwi.com, a New Zealand-based Chinese website, is widely read and influential among Chinese people who live or study in New Zealand. I collected news articles and reports from the Skykiwi website about these two events, and analysed them.

I found 14 items in total about the Kelly Zhao kidnapping. Eight qualified as objective coverage, two were commentaries on mainstream media reporting of the event, and four were commentaries on the behaviour of Chinese people.

I also found three items about the drivers’ licence scam. Of these, one qualified as objective, one was a commentary on mainstream news reports and one was a commentary on the behaviour of Chinese people.

Apart from news coverage, the NZ Chinese media is also at the forefront of a debate aimed at discouraging people from participating in crimes.

The Chinese media in New Zealand is sensitive to how the mainstream media report the issues and what they say about Chinese people. Unfortunately negative news forms most of the coverage by mainstream media.

A large number of contributors also expressed their views about these two stories in Skykiwi chat rooms. Overall, the reaction of Chinese communities and individuals in Auckland can be divided into three main categories:

Some of them support the exposure of criminal activities, wanting pure information no matter who appears on the news. Some do not want mainstream media to uncover the truth, believing it would impact negatively on the reputation of Chinese people. And others are strongly dissatisfied with aggressive comments made against Chinese people which claim new Asian migrants are the cause of an increase in the crime rate..

Some further questions would be interesting to investigate: Why do the New Zealand Chinese media always report or highlight what the mainstream media say about our people? And why do the mainstream media at times focus on negative news about Chinese people?

I believe in the latter case that it is not only because of negativity -one of the underlying principles in the selection and presentation of news - but also a reflection of attitudes towards us. Flora Xie, from Beijing, China, is a BA graduate in Media Studies from Massey University.

Fostering links with Jakarta

By Helder Da Costa

The recent state visit by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono - the third by an Indonesian leader to New Zealand since the 1970s - is hugely significant for this country.

The trip by the leader of the world’s fourth most populous country within six months of his election will help promote trade and regional security. And, as a friend of New Zealand, Indonesia is sympathetic to the possible inclusion of Australia and New Zealand at an inaugural East Asia Summit later this year.

During their talks, President Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Helen Clark agreed to improve bilateral cooperation in economic issues, trade and in combating transnational crimes.

Although Indonesia is geographically located near New Zealand, trade and economic activities between the countries are fairly insignificant, with Indonesia ranked only 16th among New Zealand's trading partners.

"The meeting with the president was very constructive, with a number of outcomes. We would like to focus our relationship more on economic and trade issues as well as on transnational crimes," Ms Clark told a joint news conference.

She also reiterated her government's support for Indonesia's integrity and said that special autonomy granted to Aceh and Papua would be the best solution to address separatist issues.

The two countries also indicated willingness to help promote the mobility of business people and tourists. They signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at preventing people-smuggling and trafficking.

The document included a plan to step up cooperation between the Indonesian and Zealand police forces. The New Zealand government has also pledged to boost its scholarships for Indonesians to study here.

The nature of the relationship was on display at a state dinner at Parliament House. In her welcome speech, the Prime Minister said New Zealand’s closest neighbour in Asia was Indonesia.

She said that dramatic political evolution meant there was much that was positive to build on for the future, and that New Zealand looked forward to working with the Indonesian government.

President Yudhoyono thanked New Zealand for its humanitarian support to the tsunami affected areas of Sumatra and to Indonesia in general.

He also commented that overseas investment in Indonesia was on the increase and that Indonesia’s stock market had responded positively to last year’s democratic and peaceful transition of power.

Addressing Ms Clark as “my very good friend”, President Yudhoyono pledged that Indonesia would serve as a bridging country between New Zealand and its counterparts in Asia.

So where to go from here? The government has indicated it would strengthen its involvement with ASEAN and establish more frequent high-level exchanges; enhance people-to-people links; deepen practical co-operation; and develop a closer dialogue on issues of common concern.

In addition, Wellington is studying the possibility of signing the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Co-operation. Indonesia has in recent years also actively promoted new opportunities for dialogue with New Zealand and other neighbours through the South West Pacific Dialogue and an Interfaith Dialogue.

The two leaders of Indonesia and New Zealand have met three times in the past six months - at the APEC Leaders Meeting in Santiago,at the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane (both in November last year) and at the tsunami aid summit in January. Dr. Helder Da Costa is East Timorese. He studied agricultural economics at Satya Wacana University in Java before embarking on his masters and doctorate at Massey and Adelaide Universities respectively. He is leaving his role at Asia:NZ as the foundation’s tertiary education manager to take up a new position as the Asia programme manager at Volunteer Service Abroad.

Influencing the policymakers

A strengthening of New Zealand’s involvement in Track II processes is becoming increasingly important and necessary as part of its overall engagement with Asia.

That is a central conclusion of a report by three leading Asia scholars commissioned by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

Track II refers to semi-official, semi-academic discussions on political, security and economic issues outside direct government to government (or Track I) channels.

The report – Mapping Track II Institutions in New Zealand, Australia and the Asian Region - was prepared by Prof Desmond Ball, Prof Anthony Milner and Dr Brendan Taylor from the Australian National University.

One recommendation is that strategic alliances between Track II institutions and local media outlets should be encouraged with a view towards strengthening public awareness.

Another called for innovative thinking on how to best engage New Zealanders working throughout Asia and the country’s growing Asian communities.

“Bearing in mind that engagement with Asia is often built upon personal relationships and local knowledge, better use could be made of New Zealanders with Asia expertise living in the region.”

The authors say the success of New Zealand’s second track engagement with Asia ultimately depends on the contribution which the government, diplomats, business, media, academics, the Track II community and the general public are willing and able to make.

“Hence, one of the key conclusions to emerge from the Seriously Asia project – Ensure New Zealand institutions operate effectively as ‘NZ Inc’ – remains just as relevant, if not more so, when it comes to the optimisation of New Zealand’s Track II engagement with Asia.”

For a copy of the report, visit the Asia:NZ website or contact Asia:NZ’s media adviser Charles Mabbett (cmabbett@asianz.org.nz).

China expert to visit New Zealand

A leading international expert will be returning to New Zealand to give further presentations on business and strategic developments in China during a seminar series in Wellington and Auckland next month.

Professor Jean-Christophe Iseux is director of China studies at the Regulatory Policy Institute of Oxford University and Professor of International Economics at the People’s University of China. He will be the keynote speaker at a China Today seminar series, giving his perspectives on the world’s fastest growing economy.

The seminar series is being organised by Duco Event Experts in partnership with the National Business Review, the Asia New Zealand Foundation, the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Bax Global.

The China Today breakfast seminar series will take place in Auckland on May 4 and Wellington on May 6. Further details can be found at www.ChinaToday.co.nz. If you would like to attend, email David Higgins at david.higgins@duco.co.nz.

Asian tigers maintain rapid growth

Since bouncing back from the 1997-98 melt down, many Asian countries have continued to grow quickly. Last year real GDP grew by 9.5 percent in China, 6.4 percent in India and 6.2 percent in Thailand. In Australia it grew at 3.6 percent and in the US at 4.3 percent. From the International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook

Strange images and unusual ceramic art

Viewing photographs by Taiwanese photographer Chang Chien Chi is an arresting and disturbing experience.

Taken in a Taiwanese Buddhist mental asylum, Chang’s well known work, The Chain, is a collection of 40 black and white portraits of inmates padlocked together in pairs.

The subjects – as part of their treatment – are chained together with one patient diagnosed as “saner” than the other in a procedure that was regarded as a form of treatment for the mentally ill.

Chang Chien Chi will be in Wellington to give talks and supervise the installation of The Chain, which will be part of an exhibition entitled Still Present, at the Adam Art Gallery from May 13 to July 17. His visit is supported by Asia:NZ.

Asia:NZ is also supporting the visit of Taiwanese ceramic potter Ah Leon at the Crater Clay 2006 potters and ceramists convention in Taupo from April 21 to 24.

Ah Leon – whose real name is Ching-Liang Chen – specialises in imitating wood and bamboo textures in clay. He will attend the event and provide workshops for up to 200 people.

A photographic exhibition of images taken in Japan is currently touring New Zealand, with the assistance of Asia:NZ. The pictures were taken in the 1960s by New Zealander Paul Knight.

The exhibition – Two Small Places On Opposite Coasts - is a record of life in and around two small remote communities, Noto and Wajima. The exhibition was launched in Wellington in March and will continue to Palmerston North, Levin, Auckland, Napier, Wanganui, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Asia:NZ is also helping the Untouchables Collective to stage The Lambuji and Tinguji Show (The Tall One and The Short One Show) as part of the International Comedy Festival 2005 in Wellington from May 10 to 14.

The show by Mishul Prasad and Rina Patel was inspired by the comic characters of a 1977 Bollywood movie called Coolie and is based on real life encounters with cleaners in New Zealand’s migrant communities and their struggles to integrate.

Also in Wellington, the Indonesian community group Kamasi will stage an inaugural Indonesia Festival in Civic Square in central Wellington on May 7.

Screening new Asian films

After last year's success, the Asia Film Festival Aotearoa 2005 will again showcase the best of Asian cinema from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Philippines and even as far as Israel and Uzbekistan.

A special section is the Asian Diaspora that will screen films made by Asians living in Western countries, such as the Chinese American film Saving Face. Also included this year are locally made films by Asian-New Zealanders and the winners of the festival’s short film contest.

The festival will premiere Memories of Tomorrow, a digital feature by New Zealand-based director Amit Tripuraneni which was made for $15,000.

The director of the Thai film Beautiful Boxer, Ekachai Uekrongtham, will attend the festival on the opening night.

The Asia Film Festival Aotearoa 2005 is scheduled at the Academy cinema in Auckland from May 20 to June 1. The festival’s programme will be available from May 5.

New website features

Recent changes to the Asia New Zealand Foundation website now allow visitors to access back issues of Asia:NZ’s quarterly Review magazine and media newsletters.

Dr Anthony Smith’s report on ASEAN-New Zealand relations and the report on New Zealand’s Track II engagement with Asia are now available as well as other research papers, reports, speeches, media releases and seminar presentations.

A list of useful Asian media websites can be found in the media centre section where you can check out the news from the Borneo Bulletin, the Voice of Vietnam or Beijing Scene, among many others.

The Asian community directory is another resource which can be used by journalists to locate contacts within New Zealand’s Asian community groups.

Coming soon is an online guide for New Zealand journalists about news gathering and reporting in Asia.

The next Asia:NZ media newsletter will be available in May. If you want to stop receiving this newsletter, you can unsubscribe at our website www.asianz.org.nz. The views expressed by various contributors to the newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asia New Zealand Foundation. If you are interested in contributing to the newsletter, please contact Asia:NZ’s media adviser Charles Mabbett.

He iwi tahi tatou – we many peoples make up a nation.

Articles may be reprinted with acknowledgement of Asia New Zealand Foundation

Level 7, Castrol House, 36 Customhouse Quay, PO Box 10-144, Wellington, New Zealand
Phone: 64 4 471 2320, Email: asianz@asianz.org.nz, Website: www.asianz.org.nz

Asia New Zealand Foundation is grateful to its key sponsors - Fonterra, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade - for their commitement to the Foundation's activities.

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