films, friends and pears

April 14th, 2012

After reading a report on an Asia NZ Foundation survey showing Kiwis have warmer perceptions of Asia and Asian people, with a rather silly headline here, I was interested to see three articles in my daily Baidu News alert.

Qingdao is holding a New Zealand film festival, and starting today and running until the 19 April, 5 NZ feature films and 5 NZ short films will be shown. The article points out that this year is the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand and the fourth anniversary of the establishment of a sister city relationship between Auckland and Qingdao, and that New Zealand is the only country to have a long-term cooperative film festival in China. It also says this festival is a great chance for the good people of Qingdao to get to  know and understand New Zealand and its culture.  All I can say is that this is a great idea, and it would be even better if the festival could tour several Chinese cities.

And 22 tons of New Zealand pears have passed through customs at Dalian and will soon be on the market. Why should this be news? Apparently this is the first load of NZ pears imported to China, it’s been done under the auspices of the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, a second load of 40 tons of New Zealand pears are on the way, and if the market receives them well, more will be imported. The article points out that they’re taking advantage of the Southern Hemisphere’s reversed seasons to put otherwise out of season fruit on the Chinese market. I don’t know if that’s a first or a recent trend, but it makes perfect sense.

And with Jia Qinglin due to arrive in New Zealand tomorrow, Xinhua’s reporter Huang Xingwei interviewed Chinese ambassador in Wellington Xu Jianguo. Xu said that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and the PRC in 1972, the relationship between the two countries has developed to a mature stage and is the best its been in history. Communication and cooperation in such fields as politics, commerce, science and education and culture and the friendship between the peoples of the two countries have continuously deepened. The relationship between China and New Zealand is a model for relations between China and Western developed countries.

Alright, it’s Xinhua, and there’s a lot of the usual political nonsense. But how’s this: Trade between New Zealand and China totalled 13.33 billion New Zealand dollars in 2011, and China became New Zealand’s second largest trading partner and export market, and China became New Zealand’s biggest source of imports. In 2010 Chinese and New Zealand leaders agreed a target of Sin0-Kiwi trade breaking through 20 billion NZD in 2015.

And in the field of cultural exchange, that New Zealand film festival is mentioned again. It’s been running since 1998, and this month it will visit Beijing and Guangzhou as well as Qingdao.

I’m still surprised, given all the recent hysteria over Shanghai Pengxin’s bid for the Crafar Farms and Huawei’s involvement in broadband infrastructure, how the Chinese media coverage of New Zealand I see is still so balanced and even positive.

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