Insight: China Travels to Nothing: The Battle of Influence on APEC's Pacific Host


SYDNEY: Workers finalize the Beijing-funded tour to show the capital of Papua New Guinea (PNG) to world leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum.

Critics say that the hatchback road, complemented by wide, illuminated sidewalks, is a symbol of the regional power game in which donor countries have an impact on show-stopper gifts, even if deeper problems pose a threat to the Pacific nation.

Australia, the traditional partner of PNG and the close ally of Washington, raised the support and pledged more than $ 120 million (86.5 million US dollars) to APEC in order to maintain its dominance over its neighbors.

Allan Bird, the parliament and governor of PNG's second largest province, said that there is little practical gain in the boulevard of the Budapest Parliament.

"Whatever the Chinese government has done, it would have been better somewhere else to buy drugs or build a school," Bird told Reuters.

Birds say such gifts put pressure on traditional partners, such as Australia, to lessen donations and refrain from criticizing PNG's own spending, which undoubtedly includes the acquisition of 40 Maseratis and three Bentley for APEC.

"There is no transparency regarding the use of public finances," Bird said.

"The government can turn to other donors and tell them to" make the line, or we are very happy to make Chinese money. "

The PNG government did not answer any questions about financing the boulevard project or other aspects of the APEC. PNG previously thanked China for its infrastructure financing and support and denied that Beijing would have had any diplomatic pressure.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang says people support the PNG government's efforts to promote regional economic integration with the summit.

"Speaking to Papua New Guinea, China proactively provided support and assistance to the hosting, which I can say is that Papua New Guinea's government and people are happy to welcome it," Lu said in response to Reuters' questions without providing data.

In Port Moresby on Wednesday, Chinese government's top diplomat, Secretary of State Wang Yi, said that in recent years, his country has built more than 100 projects in PNG and other Pacific Islands, including schools and hospitals that these countries appreciated.

"China's support is good or not, the governments and peoples of the assisted countries are the most appropriate," Wang said, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.


If the II. World War I in the Pacific battles a key region is a strategic treasure, PNG is one of the jewels.

It controls the majority of the ocean, is rich in mineral resources and is close to American military bases in Guam and Australia.

The PNG used for Canberra in recent years has increasingly turned to China because Beijing has a growing role in the region.

PNG represents the largest debt to China in the South Pacific by nearly $ 590 million, accounting for about one-quarter of its total external debt.

When world leaders arrive to APEC in the Port Moresby capital, donor contributions will be obvious.

Australia provides security personnel, naval patrol vessels and a helicopter dock; and the city will have an improved sewage system care for the Japanese government.

Beijing refurbished the show-party congress center and talented coaches, mini buses and firefighters.

China has rebuilt the city's main highway, according to which the Moresby-based think tank, according to the National Affairs Institute, did not actually need updating.

Paul Barker, the managing director of the institute, said the newly refurbished streets and the new avenue were of little public benefit.

"It's hard to imagine that the boulevard from time to time will use others like marches or highlights," he said.

"It's not really a road that goes anywhere from anywhere."

While the exact cost of each project is unclear, Reuters's analysis of the PNG government announcements shows that China's total bill will be tens of millions of dollars.

Australia AUS's $ 120 million contribution will account for nearly one-third of the event to accommodate Canberra's 2014 global economic leaders in the G20.

The Australian PNG's foreign aid budget amounted to USD 572 million this year as Canberra redirects more capital to the Pacific to other areas.

On Thursday, Australia announced it will help fund a PNG Naval Fund, which China expresses interest in funding.

"Over the past year, we have been extending Australia and New Zealand aggressively to the Pacific, and we are very happy," said a senior US official who spoke about anonymity.

Australia's Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, has rejected Canberra's APEC support for its support. Australia has previously said it is "partner" with PNG to showcase trade, tourism and investment opportunities.


"(PNG Prime Minister) Peter O & # 39; Neill sees APEC as when placing PNG on the world stage," the British official told Reuters. "If a donor wants to win with O & # 39; Neillel, then help with APEC."

Still, while gifts are pouring, some of the PNG is still struggling to recover more than 100 people after the massive earthquake in February destroying crops and infrastructure.

Polio, a potentially lethal and highly contagious viral disease that has almost eradicated the world, is reappeared in PNG over the last few weeks.

Faced with such challenges, the purchase of the luxury goods fleet by the PNG government has triggered public protests.

Retail sales in Australia are over $ 200,000 (US $ 141,560), and Maserati goes well beyond a typical PNG site, earning $ 2,400 a year on average, U.N. according to data.

The PNG government claimed that it had entered into an agreement on the sale of cars after the APEC and taxpayers did not make any financial losses.

According to diplomatic sources, all leaders in the event will travel in special armored vehicles in the near future, so it is unclear how they will be used.

Donors have largely abstained from public comment.

"Some are worried about swirling the ship and do not want to threaten bilateral ties by publicly criticizing O & # 39; Neil for buying luxury cars," said the British diplomatic leader.

(US $ 1 = 1,4128 Australian Dollars)

(US $ 1 = 1.3877 Australian Dollars)

(Report by Jonathan Barrett and Colin Packham in SYDNEY, Ben Blanchard's Further Report in BEIJING, Editing Lincoln Feast)

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