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North East Asia

The North East Asia region is made of China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, North and South Korea and Mongolia. The region has a population of around 1.6 billion people (or 36% of the global population). The region is home to major metropolises such as Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo. 

The Region’s GDP is $19.31 trillion USD (2017) and is growing at 6.2% (2017) largely driven by China. While politics occassionally causes friction between the countries they  do maintain a high degree of  economic cooperation, with the exception of North Korea. China and Japan are the second and third largest economies in the world while South Korea is the 11th (nominal) 

Linguistically the three dominant langauges of North East Asia are Mandarin Chinese (1.2 billion speakers), Japan (125 million speakers) and Korean (76 million speakers) 


In this section you can find information about various industry sectors and how they are reliant on North East Asia. Additional information can be found above in the “Report” section.

Tourism is very important to New Zealand. Asian visitors make up a substantial segment of our tourism market, here is where they are placed in importance to New Zealand (by Economic contribution): 

  • China #2 (expected to overtake Australia in terms of spend by 2024 – worth $3 billion)
  • Japan #5
  • Korea #5 (a growing market 

China, Japan and Korea are are all within the top 6 partners for New Zealand in trade, export education and tourism. China alone is New Zealand’s largest export partner and source of international students, as well as our second largest source of tourists. New Zealand has enjoyed strong relationships with all three countries over the past three decades and now has Free Trade Agreements with all of them.


 ChinaSouth KoreaJapan
Population in NZ220,00020,00030,000
Tourism Visitors (2017)436,256102,48092,384
Tourism Economic Value (2017)$1.46 billion$271 million$230 million
Largest tourism market2nd5th6th
Trade (export) 2017$12 billion$3.14 billion$2.3 billion
Trade (import)$10.09 billion  
Largest export market1st4th5th
International students49,8009,5008,000
Export education value$1.4 billion$296 million$320 million
Largest export education market1st4th3rd
While Asia is the Hawkes Bay Regions most important export destination and source of international students, there is substantial room for improvement in growing the value of exports; the number of international students and tourists; and attracting investment into value added processing and tourism sectors. The region would greatly benefit from a strategic and collaborative approach in its international relations.  

HB Specific Resources: 
The DRAFT HB Regional Strategy (2018) 
The HB Chinese promotional book (2018) 
Migrant Perceptions or HB Report (2018)  

Economic Indicators:
Asia is the single largest market for Hawke’s Bay in the area of Export Education (International Students). The Asia region is also the most important in terms of exports and tourism.
Contribution to Hawkes Bay % of Total
Exports($) $680 million NZD (2017) 37% (China, Japan, Korea)
Tourism ($) $80 million (est) (2017) 24% (China, Korea, Japan)
Export Education ($) $25 million (2017) 81% (China, Korea, Japan)
Investment $750 million 22%
  Migrant Data (2018):
Compared to most other regions in New Zealand Hawkes Bay has a small Asian migrant population. the Chinese and Thai communities make up the largest proportion of the local Asian population. The Hawke’s Bay is viewed as a nice location, however the majority of migrants interviewed do not feel that the region is particularly welcoming – with a noticeable level of ‘passive racism’ towards Asian migrants, international students and tourists.

Estimated Asian population in HB
Chinese Speakers 3,500
Japanese Speakers 660
Korean Speakers 740
Migrant Perceptions of the Hawke’s Bay Region (2018): 
Brief Explanation
Welcoming Community 5 out of 10 People are generally friendly but lack ‘warmth’
Visit HB 6 out of 10 Wine and art Deco were the two key areas of interest
Ease of living in HB 4 out of 10 Lack of entertainment as well as poor public transport.
Ease of studying in HB 4 out of 10 The lack of work pathways as well as local Asian centric entertainment.
Ease of finding work in HB 3.5 out of 10 Feeling that employers do not want to hire Asians
Environment 6 out of 10
Buying in HB 7 out of 10 Property is value for money and values are rising
Sister City Relationships
Partner of Population Province GDP Disposable Income (per capita)
Guilin Hastings District 4,747,963 Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region $42.8125 billion (NZD) $3,900 (NZD)
Xuzhou Hawkes Bay Regional Council 8,577,225 Jiangsu Province $121.02 billion (NZD) $6,642.01 (NZD)
Miyang Hastings 4,613,871 Sichuan Province $38.12 billion (NZD) $3,400 (NZD)
Lianyungang Napier 4,500,000 Jiangsu Province 49.5 billion (NZD) $4,800 (NZD

Content is being updated. Please check back next week

-17 Jan 2019

Content is being updated. Please check back next week

-17 Jan 2019

Content is being updated. Please check back next week

-17 Jan 2019

Content is being updated. Please check back next week

-17 Jan 2019


The People’s Republic of China is the world’s most populous nation and one of the largest economies (2nd by nominal GDP, 1st by purchasing power parity). The world’s largest exporter, China produces a vast array of agricultural, industrial and consumer products. With its growing prosperity, China has been able to transform itself into a global economic powerhouse over the past few decades.

In the late 1970s, China began to reform their economy, moving away from the strict socialist system that had been in place for many decades. Moving toward a more market-oriented economy, China was able to achieve annual average GDP growth of 9.91% from 1979  to 2010. While growth has slowed since, the average annual GDP growth from 2012 to 2016 has still been an impressive 7.7%.

With a population of over 1.3 billion, China has a massive work force. Over 1 billion Chinese are of working age (15-64 years old). Economic reforms of the past few decades have led to a growing Chinese middle class with far more disposable income than previously.

Although China is the 3rd largest country by area, much of the land is sparsely populated. 94% of the population live in the eastern 40% of the country, with 55.6% of people residing in urban areas. China has a staggering number of large cities – 160 with a population of over 1 million, including 14 with a population of over 5 million. As more and more Chinese migrate into the cities for the education and employment opportunities offered, the urban population is expected to continue to grow.

In late 2017 the Chinese government announced the One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR). There are specifically, four areas where New Zealand can make a unique contribution: trade facilitation and supply chain connectivity, linking China with South America, innovation, and the creative sector. Trade facilitation could leverage our biosecurity regime, expertise in cross-border movement of goods and our experience in working across jurisdictions through trade hubs. Our geographic location and trade and tourism relationships with China and South America position New Zealand as a natural connection between the two. In the innovation space, New Zealand can utilise its capability in science and technology and advance our existing collaboration and commercial links in these areas. For the creative sector, opportunities exist to use our creative skills to expand people-to-people links, cultural awareness, understanding and exchange.

Chinese outward investment has also come under increased regulation. The majority of Chinese companies which want to invest abroad need need to get government approval. Many small and medium sized investors are deciding to invest within China, largely due to the complexity of moving funds overseas and a slight improvement in confidence in domestic markets. Large state-owned companies can invest overseas but foreign investments must meet certain criteria. New Zealand is still seen as a safe destination for investment, however many Chinese consider New Zealand a difficult market to invest in. The reasons cited for this are: high cost of doing business, a lack of investment ready opportunities, regulations (or rather not understanding the regulation) and, in more recent years, an perceived unfriendly investment environment.

The past decade or so has seen China become a dominant force in global economic and political arenas. In the years leading up to the signing of the FTA with China (the first developed nation to do so), New Zealand enjoyed a favoured status with China, helped by the fact that we were the first developed country to recognise China as a free market economy and supported its admission to the WTO. Today, New Zealand, while still enjoying a good relationship is now having to compete with many other countries. China is becoming more assertive in its foreign relationships and is prepared to confront other countries over issues which run counter to their own national interests.

Domestically the New Zealand media and several high profile academics have raised concerns over China’s growing influence in New Zealand, including claims of government interference and spying. These very public and unproven claims have caused a cooling in the relationship between New Zealand and China.


1,373,541,278 (July 2016 est.)
Age structure0-14 years: 17.1% (male 126,732,020/female 108,172,771)
15-24 years: 13.27% (male 97,126,460/female 85,135,228)
25-54 years: 48.42% (male 339,183,101/female 325,836,319)
55-64 years: 10.87% (male 75,376,730/female 73,859,424)
65 years and over: 10.35% (male 67,914,015/female 74,205,210) (2016 est.)
Dependency ratiostotal dependency ratio: 36.6%
youth dependency ratio: 23.5%
elderly dependency ratio: 13%
potential support ratio: 7.7% (2015 est.)
Median agetotal: 37.1 years
male: 36.2 years
female: 38.1 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate0.43% (2016 est.)
Birth rate12.4 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate7.7 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate-0.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Urbanizationurban population: 55.6% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 3.05% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major cities – populationShanghai 23.741 million; BEIJING (capital) 20.384 million; Chongqing 13.332 million; Guangdong 12.458 million; Tianjin 11.21 million; Shenzhen 10.749 million (2015)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.15 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.17 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.14 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 12.2 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 75.5 years
male: 73.5 years
female: 77.9 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate1.6 children born/woman (2016 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate84.6% (2006)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate0.1% (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS780,000 (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deathsNA
Drinking water sourceimproved:
urban: 97.5% of population
rural: 93% of population
total: 95.5% of population
urban: 2.5% of population
rural: 7% of population
total: 4.5% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility accessimproved:
urban: 86.6% of population
rural: 63.7% of population
total: 76.5% of population
urban: 13.4% of population
rural: 36.3% of population
total: 23.5% of population (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: Japanese encephalitis
soil contact disease: hantaviral hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) (2016)
Nationalitynoun: Chinese (singular and plural)
adjective: Chinese
Ethnic groups

Han Chinese 91.6%, Zhuang 1.3%, other (includes Hui, Manchu, Uighur, Miao, Yi, Tujia, Tibetan, Mongol, Dong, Buyei, Yao, Bai, Korean, Hani, Li, Kazakh, Dai and other nationalities) 7.1%
note: the Chinese Government officially recognizes 56 ethnic groups (2010 est.)

ReligionsBuddhist 18.2%, Christian 5.1%, Muslim 1.8%, folk religion 21.9%, Hindu < 0.1%, Jewish < 0.1%, other 0.7% (includes Daoist (Taoist)), unaffiliated 52.2%
note: officially atheist (2010 est.)
LanguagesStandard Chinese or Mandarin (official; Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)
note: Zhuang is official in Guangxi Zhuang, Yue is official in Guangdong, Mongolian is official in Nei Mongol, Uighur is official in Xinjiang Uygur, Kyrgyz is official in Xinjiang Uygur, and Tibetan is official in Xizang (Tibet)
Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.4%
male: 98.2%
female: 94.5% (2015 est.)
People – notein October 2015, the Chinese Government announced that it would change its rules to allow all couples to have two children instead of just one, as mandated in 1979; the new policy was implemented on 1 January 2016 to address China’s rapidly aging population and economic needs
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 14 years (2014)
Education expendituresNA
Maternal mortality rate27 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight3.4% (2010)
Health expenditures5.5% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density1.49 physicians/1,000 population (2011)
Hospital bed density3.8 beds/1,000 population (2011)
Obesity – adult prevalence rate7.3% (2014)

Chinese emigrants began to move to other Asian countries, particularly Southeast Asia, more than 2000 years ago. Large numbers of Chinese migrated from China to virtually every other country in the world during the 19th century and early 20th century. By around 2011, there were over 40.3 million overseas Chinese residing in 148 countries. Overseas Chinese are now minorities in all countries except Singapore, where they comprise just over half of the population. More than 73 percent of the overseas Chinese live in Asia, especially Southeast Asia, and over 80 percent of the Chinese who live outside Asia reside in more developed countries. The graph shows numbers (in millions) of Chinese living in other countries.

Many Chinese people have emigrated from the country in search of better living conditions and educational chances. In 2013, the United States and Canada had become the countries with the highest immigration rate of millionaires from China according to Hurun Research Institute, accounting for 25 percent and 23 percent of Chinese millionaire emigrants that year, respectively. Among other popular immigration destinations for Chinese riches are Europe (14%), Australia (13%), and Singapore (13%).

According to Statistics New Zealand, the estimated population of Chinese living in New Zealand is 263,000. This is projected to increase to 316,000 by 2023.  Auckland is home to over 150,000 Mainland Chinese, Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan migrants. There are also substantial ethnic Chinese populations from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. The total estimated population in New Zealand who use Chinese language as their primary means of communication is 305,000

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a meeting point of Western and Eastern cultures. It is a major shipping and logistics hub as well as being an important financial center. For a hundred years Hong Kong was part of the British Empire over which time European banking, legal and administrative systems were established. In 1997 Hong Kong was returned to China where it continues to be an important gateway between China and and the world.

Hong Kong’s economy is characterised by free trade, low taxation and minimum government intervention. Whilst it only has a population of 7 million, Hong Kong is the world’s 9th largest trading economy. Hong Kong is also a major service economy, with particularly strong links to mainland China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.

Hong Kong is New Zealand’s 12th export destination, 8th largest investment destination and the 6th largest source for inward investment into New Zealand. Much of Mainland China’s investment into New Zealand flows through Hong Kong. Currently about 3,000 New Zealanders are living in Hong Kong. The relationship between the two regions was further strengthened with the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement, which came into effect on 1st January 2011.


Taiwan is an island in Southeast Asia, located north of the Philippines off the Southeast coast of China. In July 2013, Taiwan and New Zealand signed a free trade agreement, making it an attractive place for Kiwis to do business.

Taiwan has a population of over 23 million people. Approximately 78% of its people live in urban areas. The largest city is the capital, Taipei, with 2.6 million people. Other major cities include Kaohsiung (1.5 million), Taichung (1.2 million) and Tainan (815,000). Most of the population and infrastructure are on the western coast of the island due to the rugged, mountainous terrain of the east. With a GDP per capita of $46,800, Taiwan is one of the most prosperous nations in Southeast Asia.

China has claimed sovereignty over the island since 1949. Due to China’s assertions that Taiwan is a province of China, Taiwan has official diplomatic ties with few nations. A notable exception to this is the USA, which in 1979 passed the Taiwan Relations Act promising to help the island defend themselves. Despite these sensitive relations between Taiwan and China, Taiwan has established itself as one of Asia’s largest traders. In recent years relations have softened somewhat, with the ECFA (Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement) signed between the two nations in 2010.

Taiwan exported $284.9 billion worth of goods in 2015. The bulk of these exports were related to consumer electronics, such as electronics, semiconductors and televisions. China and Hong Kong collectively take approximately 40% of Taiwan’s exports, with the USA, Japan and Singapore its next biggest export partners. In 2015 Taiwan imported $228.6 billion worth of goods, most of which were energy related (petroleum, natural gas and coal).

South Korea

South Korea has a population of approximately 50 million, 82.5% of which live in urban areas. Major cities include the capital Seoul (9.7 million people), Busan (3.2 million), Incheon (2.6 million) and Daegu (2.2 million). The country is located on the southern half of the Korean peninsula, with the southern end of Japan lying to the south east.

Following the split from North Korea in 1948, the two countries have moved in very different directions, both economically and socially. While the people of the South enjoy a free, modern way of life, it is well known that the people of North Korea do not enjoy such luxuries. Over half a century of strict rule by a family of dictators has left the country isolated and extremely poor. A 4 km wide Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separates the two nations.

South Korea’s economy is largely export based. $495.5 billion worth of exports were made in 2016, making it the 6th largest exporter globally. The majority of Korean exports are computer parts and other electronic goods, along with automobile and auto parts. Imports into South Korea in 2015 totaled $430.8 billion.


Japan is one of the most highly developed and prosperous nations in the world. A world leader in consumer electronics and car manufacturing, it is currently the third largest economy in the world (by nominal GDP), behind only China and the USA. As the only Asian member of the G8, Japan holds great sway in international affairs.

In the decades following World War II, Japan experienced phenomenal economic growth. This has slowed in modern times, in particular due to the financial crisis of 2008 and the 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami. Areas affected by this natural disaster continue to trail behind the national average, but overall the country has mostly recovered and maintains its role as a global economic leader. As part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Japan’s economy will be open to increased foreign competition and its businesses will have greater export opportunities.

The GDP of Japan is currently comprised of 1.2% agriculture, 26.6% industry and 72.2% services. In 2015 Japan imported and exported about the same value of goods, approx. $625 billion each way. Their main import/export partners are China and the USA. Motor vehicles and auto parts make up the bulk of Japan’s exports (14.9% and 4.8% of total exports, respectively), along with iron and steel products (5.4%) and plastic materials (3.3%). Most of Japan’s imports are currently energy based – petroleum (16.1% of total imports), liquid natural gas (9.1%) and coal (2.4%). They also import a significant amount of clothing (3.8%) and audio visual devices (1.4%).

New Zealand and Japan have enjoyed a relationship which has spanned decades. During the 1980s and 1990s many Kiwis studied Japanese and there were a great number of sister city relationships formed. While the Japanese economy has cooled in recent years it is still the third largest economy in the world and New Zealand’s fourth largest trading partner.

In 2014 Japan imported $2.9 billion worth of New Zealand goods. 9,742 Japanese students studied in New Zealand in 2014. 93,600 Japanese tourists visited New Zealand in the past 12 months, an increase of 11% on the previous year and Japan has investments in New Zealand worth approximately $8.5 billion.

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