June 2020 Issue: Positive Perceptions

Positive Perceptions

Black and brown lives matter. The YA supports the much-needed reckonings over racial justice happening around the world. Tātoutātou has a great resource on anti-Black racism in the New Zealand context. Donate, read, call and email your elected representatives.
Kia ora! We've had a busy month at the YA, hosting two more Zoom Into China sessions. Firstly, Alex Worker (consultant to Impossible Foods, among others) gave a great talk about his journey "failing forward" in the food startup sector. He spoke of the strong platform the New Zealand/China relationship offers for businesses, as well as the sustainability challenges facing the food industry.Then, we were joined by Stephen and Brittany from Zuru, who gave some good insight into the realities of working in China as young professionals. Both left to work in Shenzhen after graduating from university and talked about the thrill of China's technological advancement and the organised chaos of its cities. (Btw, If you missed these sessions and want to catch up, signing up as a member gives you access to all recordings!)
This month also saw the release of Asia New Zealand Foundation's annual Perceptions of Asia report. Due to the unique time we're currently in, the Foundation actually did two polls, one pre-Covid and one post. The headline figure was interesting, showing a post-Covid jump in New Zealanders who think that it is important that we develop ties with Asia. With China being the starting place of the virus, there were fears that Asia would be shunned as globalisation slowed down. It is hopeful to see New Zealanders aren't turning away.

#1. Upcoming Event: YA Virtual Session 5 with Jane Jiang

When you think of New Zealand exports, fitness programmes likely aren’t the first things that pop into your mind. But did you know, the NZ-based fitness brand Les Mills has a history of 21 years in China? Over the past two years in particular, Les Mills China has started to expand their reach to focus on Western China, bringing a fresh perspective to the fitness industry there. The company also innovated amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and actually increased their customers by using digital solutions.

We are pleased to welcome Jane Jiang, CEO of Les Mills China, as the speaker for our fifth YA virtual session. Since coming on board as CEO four years ago, Jane has been leading a successful change of Les Mills in China from a distribution model to a directly-owned business. We really look forward to gaining insight into how Chinese leadership has successfully impacted a Kiwi business in China! Don't miss out!

Register for session 5 here. See you on Zoom (look out for the link in the registration email), Wednesday 1st July at 3.30 pm NZST!

#2. Business Desk: How is the US-China trade war affecting our businesses?

Asia Media Centre has published a series of articles about how the US-China trade war is affecting actual businesses in New Zealand and Australia, with Vic Uni's Dr Hongzhi Gao interviewing 16 of them.

New Zealand is a small country that relies on larger countries to help build economic growth, with China being NZ’s largest trading partner. While NZ has not been directly targeted by the many tariffs being thrown around, it has still been affected by decreased global business confidence, and increased protectionism in even non-tariffed sectors.

The interview quotes in the article contain a variety of strategies businesses have taken to deal with the trade war, with many taking the "lying low" approach and enjoying the benefits of both markets in the interim. But as Gao mentions, this is easy to say but hard to do, especially in times on a global pandemic crisis. Well worth a read.

Read part one and part two of series.

#3. Culture Desk: NZ's Media Sector Diversity in Light of BLM

Above: A review of Artwok by Jesse Mulligan

As a long-needed racial reckoning continues in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the lack of diversity of our own media sector is in the spotlight. I laughed at this joke tweet by Mad Chapman, but the lack of diversity in our major newsrooms often leads to harmful outcomes for minorities. For example, I will never forget Labour's infamous "Chinese-sounding last names" saga, which used flawed data to try to blame Asians for our housing crises.

When Labour presented their numbers to NZHerald for the story, Harkanwal Singh, one of the only people of colour in the Herald newsroom saw it as hugely problematic. His white colleagues though only saw a "great story". Its publishing was immensely damaging to Chinese in New Zealand, and two years later, half of Aucklanders still blamed Asians for rising house prices. Even a couple more PoC in the room might have prevented this.

This lack of representation persists in all parts of the media. The Spinoff recently published two great pieces focusing on a couple of sectors. Firstly, Joanna Cho outlined the difficulty that Asian writers experience in trying to get published, with tokenisation from the white literary establishment rife. Secondly, Jean Teng and Charlotte Muru-Lanning (in our article of the month) discussed a similarly blinding lack of diversity in the food media, including the crazy fact that Cuisine magazine's restaurant of the year panel includes only white judges. In a city famous for its multicultural food, that's just not good enough.

Because these things have consequences for ordinary people and businesses. How many great ethnic restaurants have had their customers limited to just those of their own culture, because of the blindspots in our food media? One way you could support Asian eateries is to eat at them. The other is to advocate for systematic change to how minorities are seen and listened to in the media at large.

Read Jean and Charlotte's article here.

Have a piece you'd like us to feature or share? Or an idea/opportunity you would like us to offer? Do you have general questions/comments? Let us know through our socials below!

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Editors: Kathy Liu, Antoine Ellis, Han Li and Doris Lien

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this newsletter are the sole opinion 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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