China Australia Journalist Exchange explores agriculture links

A visit to Ningxia in China’s mid-west has given seven Australian journalists the opportunity to explore the growing relationship between China’s and Australia’s agricultural sectors. The group visited the autonomous region, surrounded by desert and mountains and intersected by the Yellow River, as part of the 2015 China Australia Journalist Exchange, which is now in its third year.

The journalists toured a state-of-the-art eco-textile factory outside of Ningxia’s capital Yinchuan. The factory will soon become the processing facility for cotton grown at southern Queensland’s sprawling Cubbie Station, owned by Chinese consortium Shandong Ruyi. They also visited a vineyard on the slopes of Mt Helan, established with technical support from South Australian wine-making experts.

To get a sense of the government’s economic strategy in western China, the group met with regional representatives of the National Development and Reform Commission, which is driving the “Silk Road Economic Belt” plan for increased industrial development in western China and trade with the Middle East and Europe.

Leading the Australian group, Melbourne Press Club CEO Mark Baker said the time spent in Ningxia was the highlight of the trip. “We were extended a very warm welcome by the provincial journalists association and the local government – including high level briefings. Visits to cultural, religious and tourists sites gave the fellows a rich experience of life in the small but dynamic region.

“I believe the fellowship program is an outstanding, and I suspect unique, opportunity for mainstream Australian journalists to gain an understanding and appreciation of China – its people, its economy, its political system and its culture”, Baker said.

In Beijing, the group visited the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss the soon-to-be-implemented free trade agreement between China and Australia and the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, an influential government-affiliated think-tank, to discuss the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. They also had discussions with Australian embassy officials and academics at Peking University’s Australian Studies Centre, including BHP Billiton Chair Professor David Walker.

Australian journalists taking part included: Sheryle Bagwell, ABC Radio Breakfast; Ed Gannon, Herald and Weekly Times; Angela Pownall, The West Australian; Jason Tin, The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail; and Brett Worthington, ABC Rural.

RMIT journalism student Rebecca Colquhoun joined the tour as an intern and reporter for the ANZ Banking Group’s online financial publication BlueNotes. ANZ is the Australian sponsor of the exchange program, which is a collaboration between APJC and the All China Journalists Association.

The “other half” of the exchange takes place later this month, when six Chinese media people visit Sydney and Melbourne.

Correspondent returns to Beijing


APJC representative Mark Baker accepts the gift of a copy of an ancient Chinese scroll from the executive secretary of the All China Journalists Association, Wang Dongmei











Mark Baker, former China correspondent for Fairfax Newspapers in Australia, reflects:

“This was my first visit to China in 25 years and the transformation of the country is outstanding. But it was gratifying to see that authorities in Beijing have done a good job to preserve what remains of the city’s great historical and architectural heritage, ensuring most of the high-rise growth is taking place away from the central city area.

While clearly living standards have risen sharply and Western-style consumerism is spreading fast, the way of life for many Chinese seems largely unchanged from when I lived in Beijing. It was also pleasing to see that Beijing has begun to get the problem of air pollution back under control.”

Fellows’ coverage:

Tapping into China and its future as a global super power
Brett Worthington, ABC Rural, 8 June 2015

Chinese government officials, researchers, business people and lobbyists on how Australian business can tap into the country’s growing middle class
Brett Worthington, ABC Rural (audio), 8 June 2015

Urbanisation in China creating opportunities for Australian exporters
Brett Worthington, ABC Rural, 5 June 2015

Chinese winemakers on growing demand for red and white varieties
Brett Worthington, ABC Rural (audio), 5 June 2015

Calls for Australia to do more to tap into China’s growing middle class
Brett Worthington, ABC Rural, 5 June 2015

Brett Worthington speaks to Chinese officials and researchers about urbanisation and its impact on farming
Brett Worthington, ABC Rural (audio), 5 June 2015

Regional China fears reducing coal consumption will restrict growth
Brett Worthington, ABC Rural, 4 June 2015

Regional officials on China’s move away from coal into renewable energy
Brett Worthington, ABC Rural (audio), 4 June 2015

China taps foreign expertise to build its own premium wine industry
Sheryle Bagwell, RN Breakfast, ABC Radio National, 3 June 2015

China ‘needs more WA iron ore’
Angela Pownall, The West Australian, 1 June 2015

Cubbie Station cotton’s hi-tech home in central China
Ed Gannon, The Weekly Times, 29 May 2015

Free-trade agreement is good for us, but a cow for China’s farmers
Ed Gannon, Herald Sun, 28 May 2015

Rural reporter Brett Worthington reports from Beijing that Chinese dairy farmers are unhappy about the free trade agreement with Australia
Brett Worthington, ABC Rural (audio), 27 May 2015

Chinese dairy farmers upset with Australian free trade agreement
Brett Worthington, ABC Rural, 27 May 2015

China FTA: Australian dairy to win share from New Zealand
Ed Gannon and Simone Smith, The Weekly Times, 26 May 2015

China ‘disappointed’ Australia delayed joining Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
Sheryle Bagwell, RN Breakfast, ABC Radio National, 26 May 2015

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told his Mandarin language skills don’t mean he knows all about Chinese culture
Jason Tin, The Courier-Mail, 25 May 2015

Home-grown Chinese wines jockey with Australian exports for the dollars of domestic wine consumers
Brett Worthington, ABC Rural, 22 May 2015

China’s patchwork economic growth
Sheryle Bagwell, RN Breakfast, ABC Radio National, 22 May 2015

China is the opportunity we can’t afford to ignore
Ed Gannon, Herald Sun, 21 May 2015

China free trade agreement reinvigorates trade relations
Sheryle Bagwell, RN Breakfast, ABC Radio National, 19 May 2015