Looking for Harmony
It has been a somewhat disrupted year, with the pandemic stopping travel. This has had serious impact on a range of our activities, from exchanges, through students and tourists coming to NZ, our Mandarin Language Angels joining our local communities of friendship, and NZCFS Tours to China. For me, it is the first time in 19 years I have not spent several months in China.
How we maintain relationships with China is, happily, continuing in many forms through Wechat and Zoom contact, letters of congratulations and ongoing dialogues. Thank you all who have maintained these contacts and links, and let’s hope that our relationships are not becoming weaker. It is not the same as face to face contact, but is still an opportunity to develop more non-contact connections.
Tours are certainly a casualty at the moment. The March April 2021 Hanoi to Lhasa tour is postponed to a similar time slot in 2022, but I remain optimistic that the Long March Tour September 2021 can still proceed. Please do promote this. We cannot stop promoting, and need to keep optimistic, especially now that vaccines are now available.
Also of great concern has been increasing level of negativity towards China. The lack of balance in mainstream media reporting continues unabatingly. Misreporting and dis-reporting is having an impact on public opinion about China, and to get a balance we need to look beyond mainstream media. It does disturb me somewhat, and makes me think back to what it must have been like for Rewi Alley, in a different era and more negative perception of China, when he made his rare trips back to New Zealand. Of course, low level of understanding then is why he encouraged NZCFS to be formed. I am also hearing from many Chinese that it is not a very friendly environment for them at the moment here in NZ. Just this morning on RNZ, an Australian correspondent’s reference to the Chinese government as a “regime” is typical of promotion of negative connotations which imply lack of legitimacy of China’s government, and disrespects Chinese people.
For NZCFS we have made some good progress in revising and establishing some efficient processes to move forward. Not least is the (overdue?) discussion on “What it means to be a friend of China”. This will be the theme of the National Conference for 2021, to be held in Havelock North, May 21st to 23rd. We will have some great speakers and I hope every branch is keen to participate in the discussion. Put the date aside now!
Thank you to all members of the Executive, Branch Committees and members committed to carrying out our mission statement: To promote goodwill, understanding and friendship between the peoples of New Zealand and China.
It is the season of goodwill. I wish you all a good break, and look forward to emerging into a new era of global harmony, mutual understanding and respect, free of the constraints of the pandemic. I recommend for holiday reading, “Has China Won?” by Kishore Mahbubani, a highly respected international academic, but not giving us a Yes or No answer.