NZCFS can feel justly proud of its ability, through its contacts within the Chinese Government, to arrange for important people of both countries to get together to create a greater knowledge and understanding with resulting benefits for both countries.
Startlingly successful results of the Media Tour, funded and organised by the Society, have already been reported in this column.
The tour enabled six seasoned Kiwi journalists to spend a busy week in Shanghai and Beijing. Even before they returned to NZ there was a comprehensive series of positive reports and features from the NZ Herald’s Business Editor, Liam Dann, photographer David White and writer Conrad Heine from the NZ Listener, the Otago Daily Times Agricultural Editor Sally Rae, Sunday Star Times reporter Simon Day and Heather McCarron from the Radio Live network.
The NZ Listener will be running Conrad’s report on the environment and social media in China alongside a photo essay by David White before the end of July.
All of them acknowledged the unprecedented contribution that the NZCFS made to the success of the visit.
Thanks to the Society’s contacts, the journalists were hosted by Youxie (Chinese Peoples’ Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries**) staff: Scott Wu Fei in Shanghai supported by Lesley Li in Beijing. Lesley Li co-ordinated appointments with the help of Pat English, Executive Director of the New Zealand China Council; Pamela Dunn of the Ministry of Affairs and both Consul General Niu and Consul Long in Auckland. Consul Niu also hosted a farewell dinner for the delegation before they left. All these people provided useful access to high-ranking officials who spoke surprisingly candidly off the record on topics of particular interest to each of the reporters.
One of these meetings was an hour-long off-the-record audience with a Deputy Governor of the Peoples Bank of China, Ms Hu Xiaolin. Sally Rae of the Otago Daily Times commented:
“A visit to Fonterra’s new intensive farming schemes in China was arranged which was so much more valuable than meeting their executives in a city office”.
Also covered were the new economic moves of the Chinese Government’s attempt to slow down GDP with an emphasis on improving social services to its citizens in the areas of housing, social welfare etc. There was, in addition, an interesting interview with an Otago man making a success of his pizza business in Shanghai.
As a result, the journalists were able to pass back to the NZ general public, a much greater awareness and knowledge of various aspects of Chinese life.
“All the meetings were interesting and useful, creating the ‘big picture’ of what this China, that we write about so often, is all about”, said Sally Rae.
Liam Dann had a similar response and explained:
“As an editor, I feel that stories about NZ business people succeeding in China are a dime a dozen now. The real value is in increasing New Zealand’s depth of understanding around Chinese trends and policy and wider cultural issues. This was highlighted to me very soon after my return from the media tour when the issue of infant formula exports from NZ to China was in the spotlight as a news story. After my time in China, I felt more confident in my understanding of the seriousness of food safety to the Chinese people and the importance of addressing this at policy level for the Chinese Government.”
“This visit also enabled me to play a role in assisting my reporters to produce a series of stories and editorials which have resulted in the NZ Government addressing the concerns of Chinese consumers and beginning a process of restructuring the regulatory regime for the industry.
For Youxie, Lesley Ding Li was equally positive:
“We were really glad to have your delegation here in China. We hope to see more news of this type in future”.
Below are links to the articles written by the journalists either during or just after the tour:
Simon Day’s article in the Sunday Star Times:
Liam Dann’s NZ Herald articles:
Sally Rae’s articles in the Otago Daily Times:
Colin Heine’s article in the Listener:
Teri France, July 2013
** Editor’s Note: The Beijing offices of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries are in the old Italian Embassy offices, where Rewi Alley lodged for over 30 years before his death in 1987.