AMC's top stories: What were you reading in 2020?

What stories were you interested in reading this year? We’ve gathered the top 10 most-read stories from the Asia Media Centre site from 2020, grouped into common themes – time for a revisit to an old favourite, or simply sit back and enjoy a new read  


It’s impossible to ignore Covid in 2020 – from the first cases detected more than a year ago, to the global pandemic we see today. Country to country, virus measures have differed dramatically, and the way people have coped with Covid is a new story in each place.  

Ron Hanson, editor of White Fungus magazine, wrote about his experiences in Taiwan, which has been held up alongside New Zealand as a model to follow during Covid. On the other hand, Andrea Chloe Wong’s piece on the Philippines earlier this year shows how quickly things can take a turn for the worse under a different style of leadership. 

Temperature check and handwash are from Top City department store in Taichung Photo Credit Ron Hanson

Temperature check and handwashing station in the Top City department store in Taichung. Photo/Ron Hanson

Closer to home, Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s Chris Roberts took a closer look at what would happen to New Zealand’s tourism industry, especially without the visitors that would normally be flocking to our shores from China, Japan, and South Korea.  

Finally, a different angle on China and Covid - China boasts the largest social assistance system in the world measured by numbers of beneficiaries, under a basic income assistance program known as dibao. But the system is far from perfect and in the era of a pandemic, needs an overhaul, writes Alex Smith.

Arts and Culture

However, there was plenty of time to peruse the lighter side of life, with many people scoping out our article on the Diwali festival in Auckland. Held in late October and early November, the festival of lights lit up across the city with numerous events – AMC's Lee Seabrook Suckling even made it along to a cooking class held as part of the celebrations 

2020 was also a stellar year for K-pop – you may have heard the name BTS, a Korean boy band which dominated headlines and broke records left, right, and centre when they released their single Dynamite in August – but it’s girl band Blackpink which is the biggest pop band in the world, according to Bloomberg’s Pop Star Power Rankings  

So, what has the biggest band in the world got to do with New Zealand? Quite a lot it turns out. 


What's the Kiwi connection to K-pop band Blackpink?


2020 has been a year of historic elections too – a month before the world sat down to watch Trump vs Biden, New Zealanders went to the booths and voted Labour in to form the first majority government since MMP beganThroughout the election period, journalist Portia Mao wrote a series of stories on the Chinese-New Zealand community, including a piece on new Chinese candidates for both National and Labour, after Raymond Huo and Dr. Jian Yang resigned.  

During that period, independent research company Trace Research released data on how the ethnic Chinese community in New Zealand was planning to vote.

2020 has been a hard year in the sporting world. Cancellation after cancellation and the postponement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo were constantly in the headlines.  

But although it was a tough year for many in the industry, that didn’t mean the athletes, trainers, coaches, or anyone involved just sat on the bench for months.   

Over the last few months, Kirsty Sharp, Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Sport Adviser, has been talking to athletes across New Zealand and Asia about their sporting careers, their plans, and dealing with Covid. Black Sticks player George Muir gave an insight into what training for the Olympics looked like – both pre-Covid in Japan and during Covid in New Zealand.   


Muir wearing the Black Sticks shirt.

An honourable mention here goes to a Q and A with ex-Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare on coaching in Japan during the pandemic.  


The way global relationships operated this past year was a learning curve for all, as face-to-face diplomacy was halted. But that didn't mean progress was also stopped. In July, New Zealand and Vietnam - countries whose official relationship goes back 45 years - announced a strategic partnership, opening the way for stronger ties during uncertain times.

- Asia Media Centre