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Where do you reckon most Chinese investment into New Zealand goes? If you picked farms and housing then you're thinking like most New Zealanders, and also off the mark - it turns out that most Chinese investment actually goes to infrastructure, the primary industries and commercial property.
This was one of the interesting findings of the recently released Understanding Chinese Investment report by the New Zealand China Council. The report aims to clear up confusion around Chinese investment in New Zealand and provide a factual look at what is often a controversial topic.
While the macros stats are informative, one of the best parts of the report is its case studies, which provide real-life examples of the potential that Chinese investment offers to New Zealand, and the benefits that some have gained from it. For example, the town of Kerepehi in Waikato was revitalised by Beijing Sanyuan Foods, who purchased a derelict cheese factory and turned it into an ice cream plant, using locally sourced milk and employing 50 locals.
This month also saw a celebration of a different kind of Chinese investment - by local Chinese New Zealanders into their communities. This happened at the closing party for Mercury Plaza, where a group of local Asian New Zealand artists held an art exhibition and concert to honour Auckland's most famous food court.
The festivities were a joy and got us reflecting on the investment in time and money many Chinese NZers have made to this country. Mercury Plaza is owned by local Chinese and is a beloved part of Karangahape Road. Many other Chinese NZers run our local takeaways, fruit shops and cafe's - often the hubs of our communities. It was great to seeing Mercury Plaza get its recognition and reading articles about the significance of it. I guess you never know what you got till it's gone.
YA is taking a break from events this month. However be on the lookout for our October event, which will be about how Chinese tourism is impacting New Zealand! (and check out our hype for it below)
#1. Past Event: Brews and Hey You's!
With our Brews and Hey You’s event in August, the YA wanted to try something different. We wanted to create and share an experience with our friends, “frien-members” and other like-minded individuals (who we were super excited to meet), plus get everyone out from hibernation in the middle of winter 😉.
This experience came in the form of mingling inside a brewery over craft beers and hot bowls of delicious ramen 🍺🍜. And to our delight, we had a great turn out of awesome human beings and a sold-out event to boot, woohoo!
#2. Business Desk: Why You Should Be Interested in Chinese Tourism
Did you know that 2019 is the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism? If you didn't, it's an initiative sponsored by both the New Zealand and Chinese governments to strengthen cultural, economic and people-to-people ties through tourism events and projects in 2019. You're welcome!
Why this initiative? Aside from being our largest export market, China is also our second biggest visitor market (after Australia) with currently 450,000 Chinese tourists visiting New Zealand annually! On average each tourist stays for about 9 days and spends approximately $4,000 (collectively they spend $1.5 billion annually). To learn more about our Chinese visitors, check out Tourism New Zealand's infographic and China toolkit.
Unfortunately, recent stats have shown that Chinese tourist numbers have been dropping this year for various reasons. What can New Zealand do better to address this?
To continue this conversation, the YA is excited to be hosting an event in late October exploring the impact of Chinese tourism on New Zealand. Keep an eye out in next months newsletter for event details or connect with us via our social media channels (see bottom of newsletter) to get immediate notifications about the event in the coming weeks! Come and continue the conversation with us!
#3. Culture Desk: The Farewell - the next great Asian film?
A Chinese American girl goes back to Asia for a wedding. No, it's not Crazy Rich Asians, but The Farewell, a film by Asian American director Lulu Wang currently screening in New Zealand.
The big question after Crazy Rich Asians was whether there was room for more Western-Asian films, and not just feel-good ones like CRA, but ones from more diverse perspectives. The Farewell's existence is a step in this direction, following an ordinary girl who is floating ambivalently between American and Chinese culture while her grandma dies. While the film itself is filled with joy and humour, a sense of melancholy pervades it, resulting in what probably is a more realistic portrayal of the immigrant experience. Yes there is a wedding, but Crazy Rich Asians this is not.
Instead, The Farewell feels like the next step in the canon of Western-Asian film-making. A film that shows a facet of the Chinese-immigrant experience not usually shown. This great article by Zoë Hu in the New Republic details some of the themes at play, and is an ideal read after you watch it.
Read it here. The Farewell is currently in cinemas now.
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Editors: Han Li, Kathy Liu