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World leader Descent on Papua New Guinea for the APEC Summit

Pacific Ocean in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has some of the highest crimes, the worst health factors and the biggest…

Pacific Ocean in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has some of the highest crimes, the worst health factors and the biggest corruption on the planet. But its low capital, Port Morseby, also welcomes luxury cars and cruise ships this week as part of the world’s most powerful men and women arriving at the annual Asia-Pacific Summit (APEC).

The meeting is probably the biggest thing to happen to the former Australian colony since independence in 1975, highlighting the increasing importance of the southern states nations in the strategic intersection between China on the one hand and Washington’s regional allies like Australia and Japan, on the other hand .

China has promised about 5.9 billion dollars on more than 200 projects in the region since 201

1, according to the Australian thought Tanky Lowy Institute and the fact that President Xi Jinping participates in the summit when both US and Russian leaders chose to stay way, shows the importance of the region for Beijing thinking.

Last week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison presented $ 1.45 billion in grants and loans to strengthen the ties th region, which he said should be “primarily and centered” by Australian foreign policy, in an obvious bid to ward off Beijing’s influence. And not surprisingly. PNG’s proximity to Australia – four kilometers at its closest point – explains why Canberra’s anxiety over Beijing’s growing gap.

Although Australia is still the largest overall donor in the South Pacific, China is concerned about Port Morseby. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters during a visit to Port Morseby last month that his government was “engaged in friendship” with PNG and in June, Prime Minister Peter Neill of PNG initiated an agreement to accept loans and grants under China’s transnational trade and infrastructure networks, the belt and the road initiative. Beijing has also provided $ 50 million for the renovation of the PNG International Conference Center and the construction of a major boulevard that connects with Parliament.

“PNG experiences the traditional rivalry between West and East,” said Teddy Winn, Head of Political Science at the University of Papua New Guinea.

The talented eyes thrown over PNG may seem curious, as it is the weakest in 21 APEC economies, with a GDP per capita of just $ 2 745 2015 to the IMF. But PNG has large timber and large mineral, oil and gas deposits, which a resource-rich China seems to exploit. Its population of 8 million – speaks 800 different languages ​​and spreads over a few 600 islands – is also almost twice as high in New Zealand, making it the second largest still nation and on current population forecasts, the size of Australia will be in 2050. [19659004] “It is the major player and has leadership in the South Pacific,” said Shane McLoud, a Pacific Islands expert for the Lowy Institute. “It is particularly important for Beijing given that six southern states still officially recognize Taipei.”

PNG domination of PNG – from the Australian Air Force F / A-18F jets swooping overhead and US navy vessels patrolling offshore to newly sealed roads and bus stops adorned with “China Aid” signs – is evident to all APEC delegates.

But whether this will be translated into quality of life improvements for PNG people is an open question. Some 80 percent of the population lives in remote villages without access to electricity, running water or care. The nation has some of the world’s highest tuberculosis levels, while malaria is also a serious blight, and polio – officially extincted in 2000 – makes a worrying recurrence after more than 20 confirmed new cases.

Carjackings and gross crime are meanwhile Rife, courtesy of tribal rivalry and street bans are called “raskols”. Most expats have little choice but to live behind tall walls in gated communities patrolled by guards. That an American diplomat robbed at a police checkpoint for his bell, cash and mobile phone last year, why high-profile delegates will travel by armored car by Port Shoreham Port Moresby, ranking the world’s fifth worst city to live in by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

A woman (R) looks after his child while waiting for a bus at a stop donated by the Chinese government for the forthcoming Asia-Pacific Summit (APEC) in Port Moresby on November 13, 2018.

SAEED KHAN-AFP / Getty Images

“It’s very insulting when we face such serious issues.”

PNG is expected to be superfluous with money right now. Back in 2013, when this year’s summit was awarded to Port Moresby, the country expected to double-digit growth and experienced significant progress in infrastructure thanks to a $ 19 million Exon-Mobile Natural Gas Project in the South Highlands. But PNG has long been hostage to global commodity prices, which have been thought out the years ago. The result is rising inflation and a disaster in foreign reserve crisis – not using the reported $ 300 million cost to host the APEC Summit.

APEC Haus Convention Center, inspired by double hulled construction of local boats, but looking for everything The world like a giant beetle derived from water in Walter Bay was built as a national ornamental work. But away from their floating glass walls and specially ordered works of art, PNG schoolchildren often sit on classroom floors for lack of desks, hospitals lack basic necessities, and social programs are unforeseen.

“The government has focused a lot on APEC and it has not adequately addressed these issues,” said academics and former journalist Geejay Milli.

What would have been a polished debut on the world stage has thus become a somewhat sharp Event where three cruise ships have been taken into the house by the 7000 odd participants due to lack of hotel rooms. The United States is represented by Vice President Mike Pence, but he has decided to stay in PNG himself, instead of signing from neighboring Australia.

Unlike Pence, Xi will stay in PNG at the newly built Stanley Hotel. Its grounds have a small Chinese pagoda instead of the typical local breath – just one of many signs of Beijing’s swelling effect. Anxiety about the Chinese presence is a Constant local resignation. Complaints about Chinese mining projects, which mostly use imported Chinese labor and seem to be of little use to local populations There is also concern that opacity in agreements with Beijing will only exacerbate the government graft in a country ranked 135 out of 180 nations on Transparency International’s corruption perspective index.

“Chinese loans tend to be no strings, as opposed to Western donors, such as the EU, Australia or the United States, which has very strict criteria for how the government will exploit it,” says Winn.

The host of APEC has suffered from graft claims, due to 40 Maseratis and three Bentleys bought at $ 7 million for shipping titans of business and politics in front of Port Moresby’s cabins of corrugated board and bundles. After APEC, they will be auctioned to the few locals who can afford them – a plan that led to thousands of protests last month.

“It’s only a cheap way for politicians and their companions to take care of luxury cars,” says the prominent local blogger Martyn Namorong. “It’s very insulting when faced with such serious social problems.”

Although many local people are understandably excited to be in the world’s headlamp, the issue of influx of companies and political leaders will lead to enough new investments to warrant major costs to host the APEC Summit.

“Investors make their choices dependent on favorable conditions and opportunities, not because an event like APEC is held in the country,” said Namorong.

adds a civil society leader who holds the money should have been used to alleviate poverty: “We claim that people have died directly because of the host of APEC.”

Write to Charlie Campbell at [email protected]

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