Undated photo provided by Harry Harding on Jan. 6, 2021 shows his life in south China's Guangdong province. To many Chinese people, especially those in south China's Guangdong province, Harry Harding is one of their most familiar faces as an Aussie expat. Coming to China in 2010, the 30-year-old Queenslander who is better known as Hazza is not only a host with the Guangdong Radio and Television (GRT), but also a singer who can sing in Mandarin. However, his wishes for the year 2021 had nothing to do with viewer ratings or new songs. (Harry Harding/Handout via Xinhua)
By Xinhua writer Bai Xu
CANBERRA, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- To many Chinese people, especially those in south China's Guangdong province, Harry Harding is one of their most familiar faces as an Aussie expat.
Coming to China in 2010, the 30-year-old Queenslander who is better known as Hazza is not only a host with the Guangdong Radio and Television (GRT), but also a singer who can sing in Mandarin.
However, his wishes for the year 2021 had nothing to do with viewer ratings or new songs.
In an interview with Xinhua, Hazza said that he wished to see the relationship between Australia and China be reset, and that travel between the two countries which was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic be resumed.
"A partnership with China is probably the best opportunity that we have for a prosperous future in my mind, after being here for 10 years," he said.
CHINA IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING
A linguistics major from the Griffith University, Hazza started learning Mandarin from grade one and speaks fluent Mandarin.
"I always had a plan to embark on a career that would involve China in some way," he recalled.
As a full-time employee at GRT, Hazza has managed to travel to different places for interviews, covering topics from reform and opening-up, to the rural revitalization strategy and the COVID-19 pandemic. During the process, he got opportunities to learn about the country where he lives.
Through reports of the rural revitalization strategy, he witnessed how "our villages in Guangdong are being lifted out of poverty."
While reporting on COVID-19 in Guangzhou, he was impressed by the efforts of the Chinese people in combating the pandemic.
"People have to remember that when the first outbreak occurred, it was a brand new virus, and China had no prior warning," he said. "China's response to the outbreak was (done) very well."
"I reported on the virus, and the advice from day one was to wear a mask," he continued. "And here in China people just follow the advice of experts."
During his work over the years, he got to know China better than many other foreigners.
"My impression of China in general is that it's constantly changing," he said. "As someone who has been here for 10 years, I've seen the people around me become more prosperous, and the overall sense of well-being here in China has increased massively since I first moved here."
"It is great to constantly learn about this country," he added. "The more I learn, the more I like this country."
I FEEL LIKE LIVING IN TWO PARALLEL WORLDS
However, when Hazza reads about China from Australian media, he felt like he is "living in two parallel worlds".
"The China that I hear about from Western media just doesn't align with the China that I live in," he said. "Sometimes I feel like, even if China does well at something, the (Australian) media are reluctant to report on it because...China is a socialist country."
Hazza is also a reporter, so he has taken great interest in reading media reports from Australia.
He said that in Australia, people are exposed to media from the United States. This point of view from Hazza was also reflected in a Guardian report last year, which said Rupert Murdoch's News Corp controlled more than half of the newspaper market in Australia.
"The right-wing government of the United States sees China as a threat, an adversary," Hazza said. "We as Australians have been exposed to that because we speak the same language."
China has been a peaceful country for decades, and has been a contributor to peace, said Harding. "But look at how many military bases the United States has around Asia. Honestly, for our region, a stable, prosperous China is very beneficial."
He noted that the Australian people need to remind themselves that they are "not the United States." "We are in a completely different situation from the United States," he said.
Talking about the negative reports from the West, Hazza said "China is such a vast country, so statistically speaking, if you are purely looking for negative stories, you will find them. But there are also a whole lot of good things in China."
TWO NEW YEAR WISHES
Hazza said if he could send a message to the Chinese people, he would say "Most people in Australia are decent, kind people, but we have been misled by the media."
If he could send a message to Australia, he would like to say "We do need to take a different approach when it comes to China. I think politicians should refrain from trying to use China to create a common enemy among the people, and...not be so vocal about criticizing China."
Calling Guangzhou his "second home", Hazza said that when he first went to China a decade ago, the relationship between the two countries was good. "I've been watching the relationship deteriorate from China as an Australian."
As he grew famous in China, Hazza attempted to use his social media platform to improve understandings between his Chinese and Australian followers.
Last month, amid the war of words about a cartoon showing atrocities by the Australian soldiers against Afghan children, he said he felt sorry for the anti-China rhetoric from Australia over the last 24 months.
"Sometimes, I get messages online from people calling me a traitor, which kind of upsets me," he said. He also received positive feedback from Australians "who thank me for doing what I'm doing."
To him, exchanges and mutual understanding among ordinary people are important, which is the reason why he believes more Australian people should learn Chinese and get to know about the country better.
This is also one of his aims in producing Chinese music. A fan of pop singer Jay Chou, Hazza release his new song in Mandarin last year, which peaked among the top five on local radio charts.
"I would like to show my fellow Australians that it's not scary or daunting to learn Chinese," he said.
He had two wishes for the new year of 2021: that the COVID pandemic could be controlled so that travel could resume between China and Australia, and that the relationship between the two countries be reset.
Last Tuesday, two days prior to the New Year, he forwarded a post about China helping evacuate a sick expeditioner from Antarctica.
"There is still hope for the Australia-China relationship," he wrote. Enditem