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Asia:NZ May 2008 Media Newsletter

Media e-newsletter

Kia ora and welcome to the May issue of the Asia New Zealand Foundation media newsletter. In this edition, we discuss the twin disasters in Burma and China and highlight the Japan New Zealand Partnership Forum. There’s also news of the Asia Aware seminars for school principals and two new books about New Zealand’s Asian communities.

In this issue:
• A cyclone in Burma, an earthquake in China
• Asia:NZ media update
• Sichuan quake: A view from Japan
• Kiwi delegation to Vietnam
• Asia Aware forum targets BOP principals
• Why Japan matters to New Zealand
• China FTA road show for business
• Suzhou group to boost digital media ties
• When do I become a Kiwi?
• New book explores Chinese-Maori connection
• Sari: A history of Indian women in NZ


A cyclone in Burma, an earthquake in China

The scenes of inconsolable grief and devastation that have been coming out of China and Burma are heartbreaking. The Chinese and Burmese people have been unlucky to suffer the brunt of a terrible natural disaster in each of their respective countries.

From a media perspective, it’s been a story of two markedly different responses from each country’s leadership.

While the Burmese government has moved to shut down any outside news coverage in the Irrawaddy delta, the Chinese leadership has allowed the door to open for a wave of journalists both domestic and foreign to view the devastated region and to talk to survivors and rescuers.

But the breakthrough could have happened inadvertently. Some reports say the Communist Party's central propaganda department initially tried to bar local media from the disaster zone, ordering Chinese news media to use material provided by CCTV and Xinhua News Agency.

But this cannot be confirmed. A New Zealand journalist based in Beijing said he found no proof of this directive. There may have been one but if there was, it was ignored.

The journalist said after he arrived in the quake zone, many local journalists showed up. “I was barred from some areas by soldiers who said only Chinese reporters were allowed in and foreign reporters were barred from ‘sensitive areas’.”

“This sort of control was patchy though and in the chaos it was hard for the military to enforce. Police and civilian officials were generally helpful and allowed foreign reporters into most areas. Once on the ground Chinese reporters were certainly not barred from any areas, from what I saw.”

Arguably, the Chinese government response has been called a defining moment for the leadership and the way it is coming to terms with the ubiquitous, porous and continuous nature of media coverage.

But one Chinese government journalist said an earlier precedent had been set with the SARS outbreak in 2003. That was when the leadership learned a crucial lesson that extensive news coverage was crucial to winning public opinion.

Comparisons have inevitably been made with the Tangshan earthquake of 1976, an event which killed over 200,000 people but news of the disaster was blacked out for years by the authorities.

While media freedom and independence in China is a clear and present issue as illustrated by the existence of the Great Firewall of China, Beijing has come far in recognising the inevitable limitations of trying to control information in an information age.

That doesn’t mean that China will transform itself into an open media environment but the signs are there that the leadership is conscious of ways it can improve its international image.

But over in Burma, there’s very little that can be found to be optimistic about except that maybe the government’s handling of the Cyclone Nargis catastrophe is in its own way a defining moment for that country but for very different reasons.


Asia:NZ Media update

At least four New Zealand journalists travelled to Sichuan to report on China’s earthquake tragedy – Jamil Anderlini (Financial Times), Charlotte Glennie (Australia Network) and Mike McRoberts and Jon Stephenson (both for TV3).

Charlotte Glennie, TVNZ’s former Asia correspondent, also provided reports to TVNZ and RNZ and Jon Stephenson has filed this photo essay for Scoop from one of the affected towns, Dujianyang: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0805/S00211.htm

In the case of the Burma cyclone disaster, few foreign journalists were officially admitted into Burma. CNN’s Dan Rivers gives this first-hand account of the Burmese authorities’ determined search for him:

Two New Zealand-based journalists reported on the recent trip by the Prime Minister Helen Clark to Seoul and Tokyo. In her talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, the PM was able to gain valuable concessions that could eventually pave the way to free trade agreements with both countries.

The visits which included Ms Clark and Trade Minister Phil Goff’s attendance at the Japan New Zealand Partnership Forum on May 13-14 were covered by Grant Fleming (NZPA) and Fran O’Sullivan (NZ Herald). But for a trade related initiative of some significance with New Zealand’s third and sixth largest export markets, where were public broadcasters TVNZ and RNZ?

Freelance journalist Graham Reid has also been in the South Korea on a Seoul Metropolitan Government sponsored trip. He has been posting his experiences on Public Address and his own website including this article on citizen journalism in South Korea:

Two young New Zealand journalists are currently working at two Southeast Asian media organisations on temporary work placements. Rachel Williamson is at the Philippines Star in Manila and Isaac Davison is working at CNBC Asia in Singapore. Both placements are supported by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

Dominion Post reporter Tom Fitzsimons is due to leave for a stint at the Shanghai Daily, beginning early next month.

There is April-June issue of Asian Magazine is now available. It is a quarterly publication and there’s an informative website about the magazine’s content. It can be found at www.amag.co.nz.


Sichuan quake: A view from Japan

A Japanese emergency disaster relief team was the first foreign rescue team to arrive in China, ahead of teams from Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

This was just one of the interesting features of the Sichuan earthquake relief operation as viewed from Tokyo where the Japan New Zealand Partnership Forum was underway on May 13-14.

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the Japanese group of 31 workers – the first of two - arrived in Qingchuan on May 16 to begin relief work, five days after the earthquake struck on May 11.

The team consisted of firefighters, police, Japan Coast Guard personnel, members of the Japan International Cooperation Agency and Foreign Ministry officials and included rescue dogs, fibre scopes and drilling machines.

Their presence was the result of a change of heart by the Chinese authorities three days after the quake after they had initially refused offers of foreign rescue workers.

The Japanese media reported that the main reason behind China’s belated acceptance of Japan’s offer was an acknowledgement of the country’s accumulated earthquake experience and technical ability. Despite an early Japanese offer, Beijing’s decision to admit the Japanese team ahead of other foreign teams was “unexpected”.

But Japanese officials did say that a recent improvement in Japan-China relations was also a factor. It was a clear message that the Chinese government views Japan as important.

The Yomiuri Shimbun said Beijing also benefited from Japan’s relatively soft reaction – in comparison to Western nations – when riots erupted in Tibet in March.


Kiwi delegation to Vietnam

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is leading a delegation to Vietnam in June for a Track II bilateral dialogue with Vietnam Institute for International Relations.

On the delegation will be Dr David Capie (VUW), Dr Richard Grant (Asia:NZ) Dr Andrew Butcher (Asia:NZ), Brian Lynch (NZIIA), Terence O’Brien (CSS) and Wook Jin Lee, a member of the Asia:NZ Young Leaders Network.

They will be joined by New Zealand’s Ambassador Dr James Kember and Jeremy Clarke-Watson of New Zealand’s Embassy in Hanoi. The meeting will be held on 9-10 June.

Track II is the term given to parallel diplomacy conducted between non-governmental professionals in a multi-lateral or bilateral setting.


Asia Aware forum targets BOP principals

About 40 people attended an Asia New Zealand Foundation forum for school principals as part of a programme to encourage New Zealand schools to include more Asian studies in their curricula.

The Bay of Plenty Asia Aware Principals’ Forum was the second in a series following a similar forum in New Plymouth on April 4 and comes before one in Christchurch next month.

The Tauranga event on May 22 was attended by school principals, business people and community representatives. The keynote speaker was business commentator Rod Oram. Also attending was Suze Strowger of the Ministry of Education to demonstrate the ministry’s new online Asia Knowledge resource for schools.

An accompanying report Asia and the Bay of Plenty was launched at the event to highlight the many ways the region depends on Asian countries for trade, tourism and as a source of international students.

The event was reported in the Bay of Plenty Times and the Weekend Sun newspapers.

The next Asia Aware Principals’ Forum will be held in Christchurch on June 19. For more information, contact Asia New Zealand Foundation’s education director Vanessa Lee on vlee[at]asianz.org.nz or schools coordinator Janine Chin on jchin[at]asianz.org.nz.


Why Japan matters to New Zealand
By Philip Burdon

The first ever Japan New Zealand Partnership Forum in Tokyo this month is a timely initiative because without a ripple of notice, Japan has slipped from being our second largest export market to about third equal with the United States.

The thinking behind the forum which was attended by nearly 100 business and government leaders from both countries including the Prime Minister Helen Clark and Trade Minister Phil Goff is that the relationship needs fresh impetus and new momentum.

This business-led initiative which is supported by the Asia New Zealand Foundation took place amidst a backdrop of a 50-year milestone marking the signing of the New Zealand Japan agreement on commerce in 1958.

It was in this post war period that Japan became a principal trading partner in the 1960s and events such as the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and the Osaka Expo in 1970 helped foster economic, political and goodwill ties.

From that time until now Japan has developed into one of the three most powerful economies and a hugely valued trading partner.

For a country that accounts for almost the same value of exports that we send to the United States, Japan doesn’t get the attention it deserves. The fact remains that Japan is one of New Zealand’s ‘anchor’trading relationships with exports valued at $3.57 billion for the 2007 calendar year.

On the surface the Japan relationship appears strong; New Zealand sold itself strongly at the 2006 World Expo in Aichi; Japanese investors provided $7.6 billion in foreign investment in 2007; Japanese companies provided employment to over 10,000 New Zealanders; Japan is still a significant tourism market with nearly 118,000 arrivals in the year to February; and Japanese is still the second most popular foreign language in our schools.

The reality is the relationship is at best, prosaic and at the worst, taken for granted.

As a supplier of high quality coal, aluminium, agricultural and forestry products, New Zealand is strategically important for Japan as a reliable, secure and sustainable supplier. Japan is also an important market for dairy products, fruit and vegetables, meat, wood, seafood, education and tourism.

New Zealand has to narrow the gap between opportunities in Asia and the New Zealand business response, as is clearly articulated in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade White Paper ‘Preparing for a Future with Asia’.

Two decades ago, Japan was the only Asian nation ranked among the world’s top economies. Now there are others, notably China and India.

While many in that business community are hoping the China-New Zealand free trade agreement provides an injection of momentum into this country’s economic engagement with the region, it is necessary to recognise that it shouldn’t be about China at the expense of Japan.

So where do we find the fulcrum to create the momentum to revitalise our relationship with Japan? I believe the Japan New Zealand Partnership event will be the much needed catalyst.

Significantly, this is a business-led initiative implemented by the New Zealand International Business Forum. That it is supported by the government certainly adds weight to the re-engagement process.

The first Japan New Zealand Partnership Forum marks the start of a process to step up the relationship. While a free trade agreement with Japan remains elusive given the country’s strong protectionist policies around agriculture, there are grounds for optimism as demonstrated by the Japanese government’s decision to participate in a study on a possible FTA with New Zealand.

Philip Burdon is the Chair of the Asia New Zealand Foundation and a former New Zealand trade minister.


China FTA road show for business

A nationwide road show begins this week to help advise businesses make the most of New Zealand’s Free Trade Agreement with China.

A widely held view is that the FTA has opened a window of opportunity in China for New Zealand businesses but exporters need to move as quickly as possible to capitalise on that advantage before other countries gain similar access to Chinese markets.

Trade Minister Phil Goff says New Zealand businesses have an edge because of New Zealand’s first mover advantage and the huge exposure New Zealand gained in China during the FTA signing.

The road show which is organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, is part of a range of government initiatives aimed at supporting businesses that want to move into or expand in China.

The two-day interactive workshops provide information for businesses to take the next step in developing capability in China’s growing markets.

“There is a wealth of information to be found among New Zealand business people who already have in-depth experience of China, and a real willingness to share,” Phil Goff said.

There has been considerable interest in the FTA with the government’s FTA website receiving 159,000 hits in six weeks. For more information, visit www.ChinaFTA.govt.nz.
The road show schedule is as follows:
Auckland – 28-29 May, Langham Hotel
Ministerial breakfast: Phil Goff, 7.35am – 8.45am, 28 May

Christchurch – 3-4 June, Christchurch Convention Centre Ministerial breakfast: Lianne Dalziel, 7.35am – 8.45am, 3 June

Hamilton – 5-6 June, Waikato Stadium
Ministerial breakfast: Winnie Laban, 7.35am – 8.45am, 5 June

Dunedin – 9-10 June, The Dunedin Centre
Ministerial breakfast: Pete Hodgson, 7.35am – 8.45am, 10 June


Suzhou group to boost digital media ties

New Zealand’s digital media industry will have the opportunity to develop closer links with a Chinese technology powerhouse during a visit later this month.

A delegation from Suzhou Industrial Park will be in Wellington for XMediaLab, an international digital media workshop being held in the capital for the first time.

Located near Shanghai, Suzhou Industrial Park is the largest co-operation project between the Chinese and Singaporean governments and one of the fastest growing economic zones in China.

Leading the delegation will be Li Gao who is responsible for the promotion of high tech, digital media and creative industries and selecting projects that might be interested in expanding into Suzhou.

She says she is looking forward to meeting New Zealand’s top digital media innovators and exploring ways of building working relationships.

Ties between Suzhou Industrial Park and New Zealand’s digital media industry were boosted earlier this month when Wellington film and entertainment lawyer Michael Stephens was made an honorary adviser for the Suzhou National Animation Industry Base.

Mr Stephens is a board member of a number of the New Zealand film production and digital post facilities for the Wingnut group of companies which produced the Lord of the Rings film series. He has an interest in the future of East-West co-productions and funding for film and other digital media projects.

From across New Zealand, 14 companies will participate in XMediaLab’s two-day intensive workshop beginning on May 30. Companies from Germany and Australia will also be taking part.

XMediaLab Wellington is supported by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. For more information, visit www.xmedialab.com.


When do I become a Kiwi?

Research examining how new migrants integrate into New Zealand society shows that becoming a Kiwi and retaining an ethnic identity are not mutually exclusive.

“Participants used a range of labels to describe themselves, such as a hyphenated identity like Chinese-New Zealander or a national label such as Kiwi – but their choice of label didn’t necessarily relate to how they integrated into New Zealand society,” said researcher Sally Robertson.

“If someone called themselves a Kiwi it didn’t mean they had lost their ethnic identity. Often it was still important to them to keep that. In turn, someone who used an ethnic label may still have adopted some New Zealand behaviours or ideas as well.”

Ms Robertson carried out ten in-depth interviews with Wellington-based migrants who had spent more than five years in New Zealand. The study was a result of collaboration between Victoria University’s Centre for Applied Cross Cultural Research and the New Zealand Federation of Ethnic Councils.

Associate Professor James Liu, who is the centre’s deputy director and Ms Robertson’s supervisor, says the findings cannot be applied to all migrants in New Zealand but tell individual stories that will contribute to greater understanding of how people integrate into New Zealand, and set the stage for a more comprehensive study.

“Sally’s research confirmed that there is no one way to become a Kiwi and that integration is gradual process. And like many New Zealanders, participants all had different ideas on what being a Kiwi means.”

Participants in the study had some suggestions for new migrants such as mixing with other New Zealanders, getting involved in the community, allowing time to adjust, and becoming competent in English.

They also advised that joining ethnic social groups in New Zealand and sharing values with family members were ways to maintain their culture in a new country.


New book explores Chinese-Maori connection

A new book by Manying Ip breaks new ground by exploring historical and contemporary relations between Maori and Chinese.

The book Being Maori–Chinese: Mixed Identities features extensive interviews with seven different families. It reveals that in the 19th and 20th centuries how Maori and Chinese, as communities relegated to the fringes of society, often had warm and congenial bonds.

Intermarriage between them often resulted in large Maori-Chinese families like those featured in the book.

But in recent times the relationship between these two rapidly growing groups has shown tension as Maori have gained confidence in their identity and as increased Asian immigration has become a political issue.

Today’s Maori–Chinese, especially younger members, are increasingly reaffirming their multiple roots and, with a growing confidence in the cultural advantages they possess, are playing important roles in a social scene that is becoming increasingly multicultural.

Dr Ip, associate professor of Chinese at the University of Auckland, is a social historian who has been researching Chinese New Zealanders and more recent immigrants from Asia since the 1980s.

Published by Auckland University Press, Being Maori-Chinese: Mixed Identities, is now available in bookshops and online.


Sari: A history of Indian women in NZ

A new book published last month features a history of Indian women in New Zealand that dates back to the early 20th century.

Sari: Indian Women at Work in New Zealand is described as a ‘labour of love’ by AUT University associate professor of management Dr Edwina Pio.

Dr Pio says she wanted to explode the myth that a New Zealand Indian woman will probably own a dairy, be unable to speak English and be a mere chattel of her all-powerful husband.

“My book uncovers findings such as terms like 'curry-munchers', race aliens and foreign trash which emboss the experiences of many Indian women,” she said. “Other more positive phrases, such as great learners, hard working, non-smokers and family oriented, are now more frequently heard."

Sari is the result of interviews with 100 Indian women and conversations with more than 600 Indian women across New Zealand over a period of six years. The foreword was written by Governor General Anand Satyanand.

Writing the book evolved from Dr Pio's concern that qualified and professional Indian women find it difficult to get work equivalent to their skills and qualifications.

“This is primarily because they lack Kiwi experience,” she said. “And because their accent and perhaps visible diversity discriminators such as skin colour are different from the New Zealand host society.”

Dr Pio hopes her book will bring the silent voices of Indian women into the public domain, as a tribute to their work and life in New Zealand, and posing questions and offering recommendations for policy makers, employers, the business community and Indians in New Zealand.

Sari: Indian Women at Work in New Zealand is published by Dunmore Press.


The next Asia:NZ media newsletter will be available in June. 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, contact Asia New Zealand Foundation media adviser Charles Mabbett at cmabbett[at]asianz.org.nz.

To find out more about Asia New Zealand Foundation please visit our 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 commitment to the Foundation's activities.


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