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Looking back: AMC's top stories of 2021


2021 has been a strange year to say the least. Covid has understandably dominated the news but that’s not the only topic that’s been hitting the headlines this year. Here at the Asia Media Centre, we’re taking a quick look back at the top five most-read stories on our website in 2021. 

NZ’s racism against Asians 

In March 2021, nearly 1000 people marched in Auckland, rallying against anti-Asian sentiment. Image: Portia Mao

In early 2021, the Stop Asian Hate movement took off in the wake of rising reports of anti-Asian sentiment during the Covid pandemic. In March, roughly 1000 people took to the streets in Auckland, calling for a stop to Asian discrimination. Journalist Portia Mao went along to report on the march and in this piece, also reflects on the generational divide within the Chinese-New Zealand community on how these issues are perceived. 

The Long Road Back to ZeroTaiwan's Covid Recovery 

A temperature check station at Tiger City Department Store, Taichung City. Image: Supplied/Ema Chang

Throughout the pandemic, New Zealand has often been compared to Taiwan as one of the success stories of Covid. Taiwan routinely made the news as one of the few places in the world that managed to control the virus – until May 2021. Taiwan-based Ron Hanson, editor of White Fungus, wrote about the sudden surge of cases in a mostly untouched society and the strategies put in place to aim for zero cases. 

Xinjiang cotton: what’s the controversy? 

Cotton production in Xinjiang came under the microscope, causing some global brands to face off with Chinese boycotts.

Cotton production in the Xinjiang region of China continued to be a major news story this year, as allegations of human rights abuses against the Uyghur people were spotlighted in headlines around the globe. Moves from global brands like H&M stopped sourcing cotton from the region, leading to boycotts of these companies from China. The Asia Media Centre took a closer look at the background behind these abuses, the fallout for brands, and what it all means for New Zealand. 

Korean beauty ideals have changed the Asian "standard" 

Beauty ideals set primarily in Korea have become standard for other parts of Asia, leading to issues with self-image for many who don't 'fit'.

Korea is the capital of both skincare and plastic surgery in Asia, and, naturally, a major trendsetter for Asian beauty standards or ideals. This 'ideal' look pushes for innocence: a small face and big eyes. The AMC took a closer look at these trends and what sway it can have people by talking to different New Zealand-based actors, artists and influencers. 

Manaakitanga and aroha: The story of the SS Ventnor 

Sharing stories of connection between Maori and Chinese at the red gate in Mitimiti / photo James To

In mid-April, the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Dr James To and his family were part of a 150-strong New Zealand Chinese Association group paying respect to their tūpuna in the Hokianga – acknowledging and thanking local iwi in the region for taking care of the bones of 499 Chinese goldminers and 13 crew who were lost at sea in the sinking of the SS Ventnor in 1902. To reflects on this part of Māori-Chinese history and what it was like to be met with aroha from the iwi at the recently opened Manea Footsteps of Kupe Centre in Opononi. 

- Asia Media Centre