China this, China that. Readers of this newsletter are probably well versed on China. But what does the average New Zealander think? Well thankfully, the New Zealand China Council recently conducted their Perceptions of China Survey to figure this out. The findings are interesting. There is good news. 43% of Kiwi's believe New Zealand's relationship with China is positive, while just 14% think it is negative. Old stereotypes persist though. For example, 41% think that China benefits most from the NZ China relationship, which is questionable given the proportions of trade between the two countries, while most still think China is our largest investor in residential property. But overall, it seems we are fairly happy with our relationship. Yet the relationship never seems too far away from potential troubles. In a recent meeting with Politburo member Li Xi, the PM raised the issue of China's appalling detention of Uighur Muslim's in "re-education camps", showing an increased frankness to engage with these issues in comparison with the last government. With a visit to China on the horizon later in the year, it will be interesting to see how things develop.
Meanwhile, it's been an eventful month for the culture. Firstly, there was the launch of the Pan Asian Screen Collective, a group which aims to represent Asian-New Zealand creatives. We attended their launch at Sylvia Park, where an entire cinema of Asians enjoyed watching Crazy Rich Asians. Watching the movie in a room full of Asians was great and we hope PASC live long. Secondly, Proudly Asian Theatre released their latest production: Orientation. The play examined the Asian male sexuality and was both an entertaining and confronting watch, with its climax asking a slew of questions without giving any easy answers. It marks another meaningful contribution from PAT to NZ's cultural landscape.
Lastly, the inaugural Asian Aotearoa Arts Hui was held in Wellington last weekend. Attended by a who's who of Kiwi-Asian creatives, it was a crescendo of the intense discussion about Asian voices in New Zealand this month. Discussions about representation and identity have never seemed more alive, with a flood of thought-provoking content being released. The question then is will this be the norm from now on? Or have we already rode the peak of the wave? Only time will tell.
#1. Upcoming Project: Remote Digital Internships with QLC.io
#2. Past Event: NZ China Innovation Forum 2018
#3. Business Desk: The Story of WeChat
I'm sure you've already heard of WeChat, the signature Chinese social media app that dominates China digitally. WeChat is not only a showcase of China's skill in innovation but also a supreme example of the amalgamation of many functions which otherwise would be separate (such as messaging, red packets, ordering taxis and even filing for divorce!).
This article from the South China Morning Post explores the meteoric rise of WeChat, which has become "an indispensable part" of everyday life for over a billion people, despite launching only 7 years ago. (For comparison's sake, Facebook was launched a full 7 years before WeChat).
Read it here.
P.S Did you know WeChat Pay has expanded to some restaurants in New Zealand too? Shout out to Gongcha and Taste of China!
#4. Culture Desk: All Who Live on Islands
For those of us who came to Aotearoa from a different culture, assimilation was done in different ways. In this personal history, Rose Lu outlines the way that she did so: by reading. Detailing her experiences from when she was a child, it is a classic tale of growing up Asian in Aotearoa. A story of confusion, buying into the stereotypes and becoming a "certain type of Chinese", and then of awakening and making up for lost time.
What this piece best captures, however, is the everyday minutiae of what it is like growing up as an "other" in Aotearoa. Of the awkwardness of eating white people food at school camp, or the unconscious separation from international students in High School. Lastly, Lu finishes with a rundown of Asian authors to read, for those who want to learn more about their identity too.
Read it here.
Cover Image from the Asian Aotearoa Arts Hui Website.
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Editors: Han Li, Min-Ji Yang and Miji Lee