Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chinese New Year 2010

Many Chinese couples are rushing to get married before the start of the Year of the Tiger, to avoid any misfortune associated with the inauspicious year.

The Year of the Tiger begins on February 14, and many who do wed before then will wait until 2011 to have a baby.

Fortune teller Peter Chan, who is also a Waitakere City councillor, said this Tiger year was considered really bad because of the absence of spring, or Lichun.

Chinese New Year, which is based on the lunar calendar, falls after the first day of spring in China and ends on February 2 next year, which is before the next Lichun.

A year without spring is also known as a "widow year" or a "blind year".

"It is a very bad year for marriages and it is possible that the relationship of those who get married in the Tiger year to be full of turmoil and trouble," said Mr Chan, originally from Hong Kong.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

NZ residency gives Chinese sex appeal

By Lincoln Tan
4:00 AM Saturday Jan 16, 2010

International students from China want New Zealand residency and passports not only for ease of travel, but also as a way to get into a good university back home and attract the opposite sex.

To get Kiwi passports, some are even prepared to marry New Zealand citizens who may be total strangers, several students from the Chinese mainland told the Weekend Herald.

China's top university sets higher admission standards for domestic candidates, but enrolment requirements are much lower for foreign students as many universities want more foreigners to foster an international environment on campuses, according to a Chinese news report.

"I don't want a New Zealand passport to stay here. I don't think there is a future for me here," said an 18-year-old language student from Shanghai, who spoke on condition she was not named.

"But when I get a Kiwi passport, it means I would almost certainly get into a good university back in China because of the lower standard for foreigners, and also be able to travel around the world more easily."

Last week, the Global Times in China reported that students there were paying around $40,000 to buy fake foreign passports to gain entry into these universities, but the Education Ministry is now demanding proof from foreign students that they have lived in their purported countries of origin for at least four years.

One 15-year-old Auckland high school student from China, who did not want to be named, said reading the Chinese report online had made him more determined to work towards residency.

"Of course, my first choice will be to get a New Zealand degree, but if I cannot, then at least the passport will give me a second chance to get a degree from a top China university."

Another teenager from China, Amy, 19, who is studying graphic design, said: "Hooking up with a Kiwi partner is still the easiest way to get residency, which is the first step towards getting a New Zealand passport."

A language student, Luke Liu, 18, said becoming a New Zealand resident was also a way for young Chinese males to "attract" Chinese girls.

"Let's face it, Kiwi girls don't fancy Asian guys, and Chinese girls here are spoiled for choice because Kiwi guys want to date them," said Luke. "These girls come from rich families, so money means nothing to them. But being able to offer them the chance of becoming a Kiwi is another thing."

The editor of the Mandarin Pages Chinese newspaper in Auckland, David Soh, says the practice of "marriage for convenience" is not new, nor is it exclusive to the Chinese community. "It also happens with the Russians, the Filipinos ... It is impossible to stop."

The Herald on Sunday reported in 2005 that Mandarin Pages carried an advertisement from a Chinese man with New Zealand residency advertising for a wife. When contacted, the advertiser demanded $10,000 up front, more after one year of marriage and a final $10,000 after two years when the buyer would have permanent residency in New Zealand, and the couple could divorce.

But Mr Soh says such ads no longer appear in his paper, which still carries an average of 10 personal advertisements daily from New Zealanders seeking Chinese wives.

"It would be impossible for us to say how many of these marriages are for immigration purposes."
By Lincoln Tan | Email Lincoln

Monday, January 11, 2010

Scratchy start to Year of the Tiger as Chinese events clash

Failure to bring two of Auckland's biggest Chinese New Year festivals into one grand event has resulted in a spat between the organisers of the two events meant to usher in the Year of the Tiger next month.

For the first time since World Television organised its first Chinese New Year festival and concert in 2008, the event will clash with the 22-year-old Auckland Chinese Community Centre's Chinese New Year Festival and Market Day.

Both are scheduled for February 13, which is Chinese New Year's Eve.

The community centre says that WTV, by holding its event on the same day, is snatching away some of its regular market stall-holders.

"Some stallholders who had previously booked four stalls are taking just one this year," said Kai Luey, vice-president and event organiser.

"And some who had changed their minds and wanted to participate in our market day could not do so because WTV has a no-cancellation policy in its contracts.

"The folk at WTV are just hard-headed commercial people. I've suggested to them when we met at the [Chinese] consular office that we about organising a common event, but they never responded."

The community centre charges $140 a stall, but WTV charges more than $300 - and sometimes up to $50,000.

Two years ago, the centre also accused WTV of claiming its inaugural event was to replace the centre's longstanding festival. The centre felt forced to pay for print advertisements to say its festival was still running, because WTV refused to promote it.

"We were stabbed in the first year," said Mr Luey, "and now that their event is more established they are treating us like poor country cousins. That's arrogant."

The community centre holds its market festival at the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane during the day, while the WTV event runs at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre in Manukau from the afternoon until late.

"While it's possible for the crowd to be part of both events, it is impossible for many of the stallholders to have the resources to do the same," Mr Luey said.

But WTV chief executive Henry Ho told the Herald it was impossible for the two groups to work together to organise a common event because "we have different directions".

"We are a commercial media organisation and any public show we put on has to be more professional than a festival that is being organised by a community group," said Mr Ho.

"We also have to make a profit or pay for the losses from our own pockets. Our event is not organised to just make every Chinese community leader happy."

Mr Ho said the clash in dates was also inevitable, because Waitangi Day falls on the weekend before Chinese New Year's Eve and it was inappropriate to hold the festival after New Year.

He says no one from the centre's leadership would be officially invited to attend WTV's festival because it was not the firm's policy to do so.

Nor would it promote the community centre's festival through its television stations, radio channels and magazine unless the centre paid for advertising.

"If the ACCC wants to pay for advertising we will be happy to put their ads on, but they cannot expect us to do it for free."


* Begins on February 14 and ends on February 2, 2011.
* The Tiger is the third in the cycle of the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 animal signs.
* It is a sign of courage, and revered as the sign that wards off the three main disasters of a household - fire, thieves and ghosts.
By Lincoln Tan | Email Lincoln
By Lincoln Tan
4:00 AM Monday Jan 11, 2010

Friday, January 01, 2010

Wrangle over site for Chinese garden

Councillors knock back donors' preference for Auckland Domain or Western Springs

An $8 million traditional walled Chinese garden planned for Auckland has become a political headache instead of a place of spiritual escape.

The Auckland Chinese Garden Steering Committee's preferred sites of the Domain or Western Springs have been knocked back by the Auckland City Council.

The steering committee is made up of 12 prominent Chinese representatives and is co-chaired by architect Ron Sang and community leader Kai Luey.

The council's arts, culture and recreation committee likes the idea of a central 3000sq m to 4000sq m Chinese garden on park land, just not at the duck pond area in the Domain or at Western Springs.

Gaining resource consent for the Domain, an archaeological and geological site of significance, is considered extremely problematic. Western Springs is thought to be too heavily used informally and for events such as Pasifika.

On the recommendation of open space planner Joseph Zou, the councillors have suggested a site on the 4.5ha headland park at the Tank Farm that is still 10 to 15 years away; a 2700sq m site in Cook St, bought by the council in 2008 and leased to Placemakers; or the western side of Victoria Park once the tunnel to widen the Northern Motorway bottleneck is completed by 2013.

Mr Sang said support from Auckland's 110,000-strong Chinese community for a garden had been excellent, but the council had given the steering committee something it was not happy about.

"I don't want to go to all this effort and find they give me a site that is not very good."

Mr Sang said the committee would consider the council's position and get back to it. "Anything to do with the council takes time."

The project, he said, would probably require five years of fundraising and three years of construction. A preliminary budget of $8 million includes $1 million from the Chinese community, $1 million from local government, $4 million from central Government, $1 million from community trusts and $1 million from Auckland City's sister city in China, Guangzhou, and overseas Chinese.

It is envisaged the garden would be on a similar scale to the Dunedin Chinese Garden, which opened last year to commemorate the contribution of Chinese people to the city, from the days of the Central Otago gold rush in the 1860s.

The Dunedin garden, covering 2500sq m and costing $7 million, was designed as a late Ming/early Ching scholar's garden, largely prefabricated in Shanghai and reassembled on site. It is centred on a large lake surrounded by several structures with an elaborate archway and 4m perimeter wall.

4:00 AM Wednesday Dec 23, 2009 By Bernard Orsman