Economic Undertakings

Papua New Guinea PM warns opposition not to ‘play politics’ with China visit

SYDNEY, June 3 (Reuters) – Papua New Guinea’s prime minister has warned the opposition not to “play politics” with the Chinese foreign minister’s visit amid an election campaign, noting that China is a major trading partner and the nation’s largest gas buyer of Pacific exports.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Prime Minister James Marape on Friday, after signing agreements with his counterpart, in the final days of an eight-country tour.

China was unable to get consensus from 10 Pacific island nations for a broad regional pact on security and trade at a meeting on Monday. Several countries said it was too rushed and they wanted to consult with the wider region, where some countries have diplomatic relations with Taiwan and not with Beijing.

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Nevertheless, Wang reached a series of bilateral agreements on infrastructure, fisheries, trade and police equipment during his tour, and officials said talks on a regional pact would continue.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visits eight island nations in the South Pacific Ocean

Chinese state media Xinhua reported this week that Beijing wants developing countries to join its new “Global Security Initiative”, although details are scarce.

The United States, Australia and New Zealand have expressed concern over Beijing’s ambitions for a greater security and police presence in the Pacific, after striking a security pact with the Solomon Islands. Read more

In a letter to other Pacific leaders last month, the Federated States of Micronesia warned that a multilateral pact with China could bring “cold war” to the region.

During a virtual meeting with his counterpart from the Federated States of Micronesia on Thursday, Wang said China was not expanding its military in the Pacific but focusing on economic development.

“Facts over nearly half a century have proven that trade between China and (Pacific island countries) has not and will not affect regional security and stability,” he said. said, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement on Friday.

“FRIENDS TO ALL”

Administered by Australia until 1975 and its closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea is strategically positioned and resource-rich but largely underdeveloped.

Papua New Guinea had a foreign policy of “friends of all and foes of no one”, Prime Minister Marape said in a statement.

“China is the biggest buyer of our products, and we will engage more with them in trade and commerce, as well as other aspects of our bilateral relationship in the future,” he said.

China buys more than 50% of all the gas produced in Papua New Guinea and “is committed to buying additional gas”, he said.

Marape fired back at former prime minister Peter O’Neill, who is running for the top job and who criticized the timing of Wang’s visit as inappropriate and warned no deal should be signed. Read more

“The former prime minister knows very well not to play politics with the visit of an international leader to our country,” Marape said.

TONGA SHARES ‘RESPECT FOR DEMOCRACY’

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong arrived in Tonga on Friday to highlight the new Australian government’s commitments to climate change, on her second trip to the region since being sworn in last week.

“We are not a government or a country that wants to come and tell you what to do,” said Wong, who visited Samoa on Thursday and promised a new coastguard patrol vessel.

Tonga’s Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni, who signed six agreements with China on Tuesday, told a joint press conference that Tonga and Australia share “respect for democracy and the rule of law. as well as the rights and freedoms of others”.

Australian assistance has been crucial in Tonga’s history and will continue in priority areas of education, health, defence, trade, policing and democratic governance, he said. declared.

Tonga has an external debt of $195 million, or 35.9% of its GDP, two-thirds of which is owed to the China Export-Import Bank, according to its budget. Read more

Sovaleni told reporters on Wednesday that the debt was discussed during the Chinese foreign minister’s visit and that Tonga would continue to make repayments.

Australia has offered to increase work opportunities for Tongans in Australia, as well as export opportunities, he added.

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Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Edition by Lincoln Feast.

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