Asia:NZ Media e-Newsletter: March 08
25 March, 2008
Kia ora and welcome to the March media newsletter. In this issue, Tibet, the Beijing Olympics and a free trade agreement put China at the top of the news agenda for the months ahead. There’s also information of a new regional media scholarship for young New Zealand journalists, a regional school principals initiative, a review of the lantern festivals and we name the latest Singapore Scholarship winner.
In this issue
* Trouble in Tibet
* Southeast Asia media scholarships
* Taranaki and Asia: More than meets the eye
* Year of the “water” rat
* Waikato student wins Singapore Scholarship
* Asia:NZ media update
* In other news
* Becoming an Asia21 Fellow
* Press photographer in Mumbai
Trouble in Tibet
Reports of demonstrations and rioting in Tibet are a case of inconvenient timing for China and New Zealand as both countries’ trade negotiators race to complete the final draft of a proposed free trade agreement that is expected to be signed off in early April.
Media reports say the protests began in Lhasa on the March 10 anniversary of the 1959 uprising against Chinese control and the subsequent crackdown has thrown the spotlight on international concerns over China’s record on human rights and political freedom.
Foreign journalists are restricted from travelling in Tibet and the precise death toll and extent of the protests and security clampdown remain hazy with estimates circulating of nearly 100 dead, dozens arrested and scores of businesses and buildings destroyed.
The timing is embarrassing for the Chinese government which will be trying to minimise the situation so that domestically and internationally the focus will be on the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing which are now only five months away.
It is a sensitive time for Beijing as the Olympic torch begins its international journey to all continents to be followed by the start of China’s Olympic celebrations in a few weeks time with the Olympic flame scheduled to pass through Tibet.
With activist groups expected to descend on Beijing in the lead up to the Games, there will be many more events planned that will put a spotlight on a raft of issues including Darfur, human rights, global warming and the environment.
China itself is also proving to be a sensitive issue for the New Zealand government. While the government has stated it is ‘deeply concerned’ at the events in Tibet and called for Beijing to react ‘proportionately’, it has no choice but to be mindful of a trade deal billed as New Zealand’s biggest since Closer Economic Relations were established with Australia.
The theme of closer economic relations with China was underlined recently by the New Zealand Herald when it revealed that Shanghai-based Air New Zealand cabin crews were considerably less than the salaries of their New Zealand-based counterparts.
The disparity of wages in China and New Zealand are an issue that trade negotiators are acutely aware of and it should be noted that the Air New Zealand situation is one that has occurred without a signed FTA.
While the final agreement should protect the working conditions of New Zealanders, the news media has raised a moral issue surrounding the employment of non-New Zealand nationals working for New Zealand companies.
The government has said that wages in New Zealand will be protected and there will be no free flow of low wage workers from China. But it will still be an interesting news week when final details about the FTA are made available.
Southeast Asia media scholarships
Asia:NZ is offering two one-month Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade media scholarships for the Southeast Asia region. This year’s scholarships will be based in Indonesia.
This is a new scholarship, aimed at junior working journalists or recent graduate journalists. Its key objective is to broaden awareness of intercultural and interfaith issues in the Southeast Asia region. It provides for two awards this year to Indonesia, beginning in early May to coincide with the Global Intermedia Dialogue in Bali. This will be followed by a three-week work placement in Jakarta at either the Jakarta Post or Tempo magazine. Both publications are in English.
The work placements will be supplemented by a programme of educational calls, which may include meetings with key Indonesian cultural, religious and political figures as well as field trips outside Jakarta.
It is envisaged that the scholarship will conclude with a short visit to Malaysia to attend the Third Islam and the West Conference in Kuala Lumpur in early June. Costs other than salary (for working journalists) will be fully covered.
Applications are called from recent journalism graduates or junior working journalists with a demonstrated interest in cross-cultural issues, supported by references and examples of work.
The deadline for applications is April 7. For more information, contact Asia:NZ's media adviser Charles Mabbett at cmabbett[at]asianz.org.nz.
Taranaki and Asia: More than meets the eye
A new Asia:NZ report takes a close look at one region’s future with Asia, and highlights the surprising amount of involvement Taranaki already has with the world’s most populous region.
The report Asia and Taranaki: Why the World’s largest region matters to a person growing up in Taranaki is to be released to support the Taranaki Asia Aware Principals’ Forum in New Plymouth on April 3
It is the first of a series of Asia:NZ forums around the country that will give school principals an opportunity to discuss how they can prepare their students for a future with Asia’s growing influence.
Key findings from the report include:
* Asia is New Zealand’s most important export region with $12.5 billion worth of goods sent to Asian countries annually.
* About $1.8 billion of goods were exported through Port Taranaki during 2006. The port’s main exports by dollar value were dairy products, oil and gas (mainly crude oils and methanol), meat/meat products, and engineering products.
* The port’s main export destination (by dollar value) was Australia. The next most important destinations were all in Asia – Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan and the Philippines.
* In the year to June 2006, New Zealand’s top five export markets (by dollar value) for dairy products were the US, Japan, China, Australia and the Philippines. China is New Zealand’s biggest market for milk and cream, Japan the biggest market for cheese.
* In 2006, a total of 765 fee-paying international students studied at Taranaki schools and other education providers. A majority were from Asian countries: 28 percent from Japan, 17 percent from China, 5 percent from Thailand, 4 percent each from Korea and Hong Kong, and 2 percent each from India and Vietnam.
* Altogether, international students brought an estimated $25.4 million into the Taranaki region, which in turn created 238 full time jobs.
* More than 2000 people in Taranaki identified as Asian in the 2006 census - including Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Korean, Japanese, Sri Lankan and Cambodian.
The Asia Aware Principals Forum initiative is targeting principals because they are key players in increasing Asia knowledge in local communities. The event in New Plymouth will be followed by similar events in Bay of Plenty and Canterbury.
For more information about the Taranaki Asia Aware Principals’ Forum and for a copy of the report, contact Asia New Zealand Foundation education director Pamela Barton on pbarton[at]asianz.org.nz
Year of the “water” rat
After all successive years of being lucky, it seems the Water Rat finally did come out to play at the Lantern Festival in Auckland and Christchurch this year.
The rain was quite a dampener with one night cancelled in each centre. But both cities did get one good night at each venue although it was a much smaller turn-out compared with last year’s record crowds.
In Auckland, about 40,000 people visited the festival in Albert Park over two nights while, in Christchurch, about 8,000 people came to Victoria Square on the Saturday night.
The star attractions were the performers from mainland China with Kung Fu tea pourers, a mask changer and Shaolin fighters all showing their skills The schools programme was again a popular element featuring dozens of lanterns made by school children.
To view highlights of this year’s lantern festivals, go to www.asian.org.nz/lantern.
There are also videos on Youtube:
Waikato student wins Singapore Scholarship
A young Hamilton student has been awarded an Asia:NZ Singapore Scholarship to study at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
St John’s College student Simon Geenty will receive free tuition, accommodation, living expenses and one return airfare each year while completing an undergraduate degree at NUS.
As Dux of School in both Year 12 and Year 13, Simon features in the top two percent of New Zealand students. He is the second student from St John’s College to be awarded an NUS scholarship following James Lau in 2000.
The Singapore Scholarships were set up in 1998 to strengthen New Zealand's relations with Asia, especially Singapore. Students enrol in business administration, science, computing or engineering faculties.
The chosen candidates have strong academic records and the potential to be leaders in their chosen fields.
NUS is consistently ranked amongst the world's top 20 universities and features as one of Asia’s top three universities.
Asia:NZ media update
Two New Zealand journalists will be supported by Asia:NZ to cover the signing of the Free Trade Agreement between China and New Zealand.
Rebecca MacFie of The Listener and Ian Llewellyn of NZPA will both travel to Beijing to report on the event which is scheduled for early April.
Freelance print and broadcast journalist Jenny MacIntyre will also travel to China in May with Asia:NZ support to work on a number of unrelated stories.
Two University of Canterbury journalism graduates have won internships at two Asian media organisations.
Rachel Williamson will work at the Philippines Star in Manila for several months and Isaac Davison will join CNBC in Singapore.
Reports by AUT University journalism graduates Aroha Treacher and Dylan Quinnell can be read at the Pacific Media Centre website. They have been on an international journalism course run by the Australian Consortium of ‘In Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS).
Both were in Jakarta during the death of the former president Suharto in January. Their contributions to the Pacific Media Centre can be found here:
Finally, Taranaki-based film maker Peter Marra’s documentary Children of a Nation has been selected for the Human Rights Film Festival in June.
It is Peter Marra’s third film about East Timor following Postcards from East Timor and Happy Birthday East Timor.
He began filming Children of a Nation in 2006 with funding from Asia:NZ. In the film Mr Marra documents the education of children in East Timor and talks with local teachers with a practical and dedicated approach to education despite severely under-resourced schools.
Children of a Nation will be screen in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin in June. For more information, visit http://etchna.blogspot.com/.
In other news
TVNZ is to announce the inaugural winner of its new Journalism Diversity Scholarship at an event in Auckland on March 26.
The purpose of the annual scholarship is to encourage wider diversity among the journalism intake into the Bachelor of Communication Studies at AUT University and into the media industry.
The initiative is available to fulltime journalism students of Maori, Pacific Island or Asian ethnicity.
Meanwhile TVNZ’s weekly Asian magazine programme Asia Downunder is now being screened in prime time on Stratos Television on Sunday at 7pm.
Asia Downunder has been produced and presented by Korea-born journalist Melissa Lee since 1994. She says broadcasting on Stratos Television is an exciting opportunity to broaden the reach of the programme.
Freelance journalist Jehan Casinader who can be seen on TVNZ’s Breakfast programme as a youth commentator is to travel to South Korea in August on an all expenses paid six day trip as part of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s visiting journalists programme.
A new publication Asian Today (formerly iBall magazine) was launched in March by a new owner. It is a monthly English language tabloid publication aimed at young Asian New Zealanders who prefer to read Asian community news in English. It is distributed in Auckland and Wellington with total print run of 8,000 copies.
Former iBall editor Lincoln Tan is now a senior journalist at the New Zealand Herald.
A Christchurch-based Korean language radio channel, KFM (88.3FM) is now broadcasting for 24 hours a day. Its content includes music, news, historical story and cultural programmes.
Programmes of Ethnic Media Watch which has been broadcasting on Christchurch community access radio station Plains FM are available online.
There are useful discussions about the media’s portrayal of ethnic communities, featuring interviews with Paul Thompson, the group editor of Fairfax NZ, Rebecca Todd, ethnic communities’ reporter at The Press and Candy Wu, the editor of Christchurch-based Chinese language newspaper New Zealand Messenger.
You can find Ethnic Media Watch on Plains FM here: http://www.plainsfm.org.nz/Podcasts/programmes#
Becoming an Asia21 Fellow
Mitchell Pham has become the first New Zealander to be invited to become an Asia21 Fellow member of the Asia Society.
The Asia Society (www.asiasociety.org) is a New York based organisation that works to strengthen relationships and promote understanding among the people, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the United States.
Mr Pham was personally informed by Asia Society’s executive vice president Jamie Metzl. They had met in October at the organisation’s Asia21 Young Leaders Summit in Singapore where Mitchell was one of just two New Zealanders invited to attend.
Mitchell Pham was told that he was the first ever New Zealander to be invited to be an Asia21 Fellow. The Auckland-based businessman is director and co-founder of the Augen Technology Group and has been a keen contributor to a number of Asia:NZ programmes.
Mr Pham says it is a great opportunity and he is keen to use it to maximise New Zealand’s connections to the rest of the Asia-Pacific region through the society.
In an Asia Society media release, Jamie Metzl said the organisation was proud to have a young leader like Mitchell Pham as part of its 2008 Fellows class.
“At a time when the world’s centre of gravity is shifting towards the Asia-Pacific region, we need new types of leaders from every country who can both understand the trans-national nature of the challenges we face and work together to address them.”
Founded in 1956, the Asia Society is a non-partisan, non-profit educational institution with offices in Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai and Washington.
Fellows serve a two-year term and come together twice per year to address topics relating to environmental degradation, economic development, poverty eradication, universal education, conflict resolution, HIV/AIDS and public health crises, human rights, and other issues.
Press photographer in Mumbai
By Kirk Hargreaves
We all know New Zealand does well in the export of lamb, beef, dairy and wool but we hear little of our companies exporting computer binary code (software).
From Auckland Vista Entertainment Solutions develops and exports software for all aspects of running a movie cinema to over 30 countries around the globe and their market growth in India is exploding.
Any photographer will tell you computers and code on a screen just isn’t that sexy to photograph but I thought visiting India and placing that technology in the social setting where it’s used could work to show this New Zealand export in action.
I chose to look at Mumbai whose skyline rivals Manhattan. It’s regarded as the nerve centre of India's economy. Almost half of all international flights to India land here. Its home to the Bombay Stock Exchange, Reserve Bank of India, National Stock Exchange, the Mint, Multi National companies as well as the largest entertainment industry in the world.
India's "City of Gold" is on the up and up. It is estimated that up to 300 new families come to join Mumbai's 23 million residents every day. Population forecasters say it is set to become the world’s second-largest Mega City where billionaires, Bollywood stars and slum dwellers rub shoulders daily but the social scene is on the move with a bourgeoning middle class with plenty of rupees to spend on entertainment and Indians just love the movies.
Vista and their Indian agents Big Tree Entertainment are capitalising on the country’s economic success. A new Multiplex containing the world’s largest dome theatre and four other conventional cinemas has been built on the outskirts of Mumbai. The multiplexes are sprouting across the whole subcontinent with Vista holding a market share of over 60 percent of them using their product. One of their major customers is expecting to open 500 cinemas in the next three years.
While there’s plenty of good news on offer in India’s new economy there are also plenty of problems. New apartment buildings are going up across the Mumbai skyline in attempts to address the city's housing shortages. Real estate prices rival that of Tokyo and Hong Kong forcing around half the population to live in shanty town slums such as the infamous Dharavi district, open spaces or the pavement. In some slums over 50 families share a single toilet. Fresh water supply is a constant challenge.
It seems India's economic growth will have to play catch up on the ever increasing demands of an exploding population. Approximately 50,000 babies are born in India each day and with them an increasing desire for more than just life’s necessities.
Kirk Hargreaves is a photographer with The Press newspaper. He went to Mumbai on an Asia:NZ supported assignment in November last year to report on work by the New Zealand company Vista. Images of his assignment can be viewed here:
The next Asia:NZ media newsletter will be available in April. 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 at cmabbett[at]asianz.org.nz
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