January 2024 Issue: Year of the Rabbit Resolution: Cultural Elegance, Commerce, and Reflections

Year of the Rabbit Resolution: Cultural Elegance, Commerce, and Reflections

Welcome to the NZCTA Young Associates Newsletter: a monthly-ish digest of happenings and articles for young people interested in the NZ-China space.

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Welcome to the YA's newsletter, January edition!

With the Year of the Rabbit having drawn to a close, we at the YA are taking a moment to reflect on 2023 and plan even more exciting events and initiatives for 2024! Our newsletter this month brings you a recap of the 2023 New Zealand China Products Expo, a must-read for anyone interested in the latest developments in New Zealand-China trade relations. We also share Auckland’s latest wearable art extravaganza, showcasing the stunning clothing designs of Chinese artist Guo Pei. Finally, our chairperson, David Robertson, recently spent two months in China — read on to learn all about his adventures!

#1. Bridging Horizons: Recap of the 2023 New Zealand China Products Expo

(Images from the 2023 New Zealand China Products Expo)

The first-ever New Zealand China Products Expo was a remarkable event that unfolded at Auckland’s Trust Arena from the 14th through 16th of December 2023. Featuring 28 outstanding products and enterprises from Guangzhou, this expo not only showcased a diverse range of offerings but also played an important role in strengthening the economic ties between New Zealand and China.

One notable moment was the reception of a congratulatory letter from the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of Guangdong at the opening ceremony, which underscored the significance of the expo.

Dignitaries and guests at the ceremony reflected on the bilateral relationship and cooperation between New Zealand and China, tracing back to Norman Kirk’s diplomatic post, China's entry into the WTO in 2001, the signing of the Free Trade Agreement in 2008, and New Zealand's role as a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2015.

John Cochrane, Chair of the NZCTA, eloquently described the products expo as a testament to the growth that can emerge from bilateral cooperation, likening it to the growth of an oak tree from a small acorn.

The Expo featured a myriad of items, including furniture, authentic ceramic craft, compact mobile housing, food and beverages, electronic consumer tech, and even eyewear. The event aimed to foster knowledge exchange and enhance understandings of the local market; both goals were underpinned by the expo’s role in showing the trade in recent innovations and of high-quality, affordable products for Kiwi consumers.

Following its resounding success in 2023 in celebrating the dynamic partnership between our two nations, the New Zealand China Products Expo is one event which is sure to return annually.

#2. Guo Pei: Fashion, Art, and Fantasy for Auckland City

(A model showcases the dress and cape Rihanna wore to the Met Gala, designed by Guo Pei)

In association with the Auckland Arts Festival 2024, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is currently presenting the extraordinary art of renowned Chinese designer Guo Pei. Guo Pei: Fashion, Art, Fantasy 郭培 :时装之幻梦 showcases over 60 of the artist’s breath-taking clothing designs spanning from 2005 through 2020.

Guo Pei’s works draw inspiration from nature, mythology, and European and Asian clothing traditions. Visitors can expect to be captivated by mystical gardens and cosmic landscapes, as well as dazzled by jewel-like flowers and magical creatures. Many of the pieces on display feature adorned royalty, film stars, and celebrities, and have never before been exhibited in any gallery. One highlight from this collection is Guo Pei’s stunning Yellow Queen gown, worn by Rihanna to the 2015 Met Gala.

The exhibition is organised by Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco with support from the Asian Couture Federation, Singapore Airlines, Rolls-Royce, Cordis Hotels, Auckland Art Gallery Foundation, Viva, Omnigraphics, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Asia New Zealand Foundation. Ticket sales are available until the 5th of May, with discounts available for students, seniors, and community card holders.

Find out more here.

#3. Chair’s China Travels

(Images from David's travels around China)

Our chairperson, David Robertson, recently returned to New Zealand after a long trip to China. He writes:

I’ve been privileged to spend six of the last 12 months or so travelling abroad, with two of them spent in China. What began as a week-long trip for a speech contest quickly morphed into a weeks-long voyage across the country: between September and November 2023, I visited Chengdu, Chongqing, Yueyang, Taicang, Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, Binhai, Zibo, Qingdao, Xiamen, and Guangzhou.

The main reason for my trip was to represent Aotearoa at the 5th Belt and Road English Speaking Competition. Held in October in Jiangsu’s Taicang City, the contest was organised by China Daily, and I had a marvellous time meeting and making friends with the 30 or so fellow contestants from around the world. I found it especially interesting to learn about what had sparked others’ interest in China and Mandarin, particularly for those not from Western countries. And this wasn’t at all difficult to seek out — young people from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Central America, and Africa were all represented at the contest.

I was grateful to be awarded first place, third division in the competition for my final-round entries on climate action and the Belt and Road Initiative. (I promoted the Southern Link as much as possible during that last one).

The list of highlights from my trip is a long one, so I’ll just mention a few here:

  • Visiting the New Zealand consulate in Shanghai and meeting Deputy Consul-General Wilson Chau.
  • Meeting Ambassador Grahame Morton and other MFAT staff at our Beijing embassy during an autumn barbecue for the Kiwi and Pacific community in the capital. It was here where I caught up with Wesley Harfield, a past technology team member of the YA now living and working in Beijing.
  • Touring the respective campuses of Shanghai’s Fudan and Beijing’s Qinghua and Beida universities — it was excellent to check out where many of my friends and peers from the YA had studied (and perhaps where I, too, may study one day 😉).
  • Testing out my Mandarin. Not having been to China since my exchange to Yunnan University in 2017, this was only my third time visiting China. Nonetheless, I found it rewarding (and certainly more convenient!) to be able to do things like navigate the country using domestic mobile apps like Ctrip/携程旅行, which is only offered in Mandarin.

Since returning home in late November, a couple of reflections have stuck out to me from my trip. First — at least when they weren’t confusing New Zealand with Australia — the locals I met in China were nothing if not patient, curious, and welcoming towards me. And second, I’ve come to realise just how much of the country I haven’t visited yet, be it Northeastern China, Tibet, or beyond. One thing is for sure, however: I can’t wait to visit China again!

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Editors: David and Josie

Disclaimer: opinions expressed in this newsletter are solely the views of the NZCTA Young Associates and do not represent the opinions of the wider New Zealand China Trade Association or any of its executive committee.

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