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Speaker Pelosi shows how the South Pacific should deal with an aggressive and bullying China

By Jeffrey Wall - posted Friday, 5 August 2022


It will see the Biden Administration's very tentative, and frankly minor, commitments to spend more on development assistance programs in the Pacific, more as an opportunity to expand its own Belt and Road program in the region than anything the US might be offering and will be notoriously slow in implementing!

Nothing better illustrates this than does the slow completion of the upgrading of the Manus naval base - a joint Australian and US initiative supported in general by the PNG Government.

As China is demonstrating in the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, when it commits to a project it delivers it in the shortest possible time frame, something we are simply incapable of doing!

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In the next week or two Papua New Guinea should know who will serve as Prime Minister and what will be the makeup of his Government.

At the time of writing, virtually all China's more obvious supporters in the current Government have been re-elected.

We are likely to see in a matter of months which of China's pre-election infrastructure and investment plans are going to be funded - principally by PRC loans that lack any transparency.

I believe the first will be the Kikori-Ihu special economic zone strongly backed by the current pro-China Foreign Minister, Soreo Eoe, who is leading in his seat of Kikori. The second will be the development of a fisheries industry on Daru - the PNG community closest to Australia - or finally locking in the unsustainable Ramu 2 hydro power project to be wholly undertaken by China state owned enterprises.

In the meantime, Australia is relying on the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility, which apart from the takeover of Digicel by Telstra largely funded by government loans are really baby steps when compared with China's agenda.

Nancy Pelosi might be in the dying months of her speakership but she is making a difference in a policy area Australia remains just too tentative on - how to respond to Chinas aggression and intrusion in our direct area of influence which is the South Pacific.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Wall CSM CBE is a Brisbane Political Consultant and has served as Advisor to the PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu Prime Minister 1988-1992 and Speaker 1994-1997.

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