Why PNG goes for high interest loans: to avoid scrutiny
Australian soldiers for PNG as fears grow about China's influence

From bus stops to bridges: Chinese influence a 'wake-up' call

ChinaCOLE LATIMER | Fairfax Media | Extract

SYDNEY - Chinese signs on Port Moresby bus stops are one indication of Beijing's growing influence and investment in the country and should be a wake-up call for Australia, warns the head of a major oil and gas company.

Oil Search chief executive Peter Botten said China had been investing in Australia’s nearest neighbour as part of its global $1.4 trillion Belt and Road infrastructure building program, involving hundreds of infrastructure projects co-funded and mostly built by China in 70 or more countries.

Botten warned that China’s increasingly heavy investment there risks Australia missing out on PNG's rapid development.

“China has stepped up their support and this has been welcomed by the Papua New Guinean government. They’ve built new roads and schools, they’ve spent substantially. It’s a new dynamic in the country,” Botten said.

“This is a reasonable wake-up call for Australia, and they should look at how they can help Papua New Guinea to develop.”

This time last year, Chinese investments in PNG reached more than $2.64 billion. Beijing recently committed about $US4 billion to build a road network connecting PNG’s capital Port Moresby to its economic hub Lae. This is critical as there is currently no significant road connection between these cities.

Papua New Guinea signed up to China's Belt and Road inititative in June this year,  and the country owes China nearly $2 billion arising from concessional loans, according to the ABC - nearly a quarter of its total debt.

While Australia is still the number one provider of foreign aid providing $546 million in 2017, a recent Deakin University paper noted that Papua New Guineans viewed “Chinese aid as more effective”.

“Australia needs to recognise reality: China is rising,” the paper stated.

This was supported by the Lowy Insitute’s Pacific Islands project director, Jonathan Pryke, who said Australia needed to reassess its relationship with PNG, which was a former colony of Australia.

“Whereas in Australia the perception of our relationship with PNG has been a challenge, China is viewing it as an opportunity,” Pryke said.

 “The role China is playing in PNG is creating a sense of urgency in the Australian government.”

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said the government "welcomes the role played by all investors, including from China, to support sustainable development in PNG".

Botten said China had made itself very conspicuous in its investments.

“They’ve made their presence very obvious and are very good at demonstrating their presence,” he said.

“One example is the bus stops around Port Moresby, they have the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation logo on them and the Chinese Aid insignia. They’re good at highlighting what they’re doing.

“PNG is a very exciting place to be at the moment, and people are underestimating what’s going on in the country.

“China has definitely woken up to the power of branding, the Chinese aid insignia now rivals the Australian kangaroo in the Pacific,” Pryke said.

“We need to have a close look at how we can do better in the country.”

Comments

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Arthur Williams

Yes Paul, that is he. Turnbull was managing director for Goldman Sacks Australia from 1997-2001 and would eventually became a partner in the firm.

Later he would be called before the HIH Insurance Royal Commission to be questioned about Goldman’s involvement in that collapse.

He and the bankers emerged clean but it was alleged he was part of a group of nine mates who paid a massive, possibly $500 million settlement, after being found innocent.

He surely must write his autobiography.

He was chairman of Axiom Forest resources in the 1990s and one of its subsidiaries was Sylvania Forest Products. They had very bad press, one story calling their forestry efforts as ‘clear felling’ and another calling it ‘the worst in the world’.

Doesn’t appear to be much on web about Sylvania apart from Turnbull having been involved via Axiom the parent company. Have articles been wiped clean form internet?

Ironically his poor environmental record didn’t deter PM John Howard from appointing him Minister of Environment and Water in 2007.

A very wealthy politician who made a killing in 1999 by luckily turning his $450,000 investment in Ozemail, run by a number of tech savvy mates, into $59 million in cash through its $520 million sale to the American MCI WorldCom, which three years later almost got wiped out when the dotcom bubble burst.

He even managed some exposure in the Panama Papers.
Catch me if you can!

Paul Oates

Good Heavens Arthur. Wasn't Goldman Sachs the same company our just removed PM worked for? Surely you're not suggesting by implication any impropriety just because he is a multi millionaire?

Arthur Williams

Read a CNN report that stated China has invested $US75 billion in Africa during first decade of this century: $US10 billion on railways 2000-2014. 82% funded by Exim Bank.

But are Western loan sharks any better? Worth reading 'How Goldman Sachs Profited From the Greek Debt Crisis'
by Robert Reich.

https://www.thenation.com/article/goldmans-greek-gambit/

The investment bank made millions by helping to hide the true extent of the debt, and in the process almost doubled it.

The article ends with a warning for cap-in-hand state beggars: "Borrowers that get into trouble are rarely blameless, of course: They spent too much, and were gullible or stupid enough to buy Goldman’s pitches. Greece brought on its own problems, as did many American homeowners and municipalities.

"But in all of these cases, Goldman knew very well what it was doing. It knew more about the real risks and costs of the deals it proposed than those who accepted them. “It is an issue of morality,” said the shareholder at the Goldman meeting where Oakland came up. Exactly."

Salutary lessons for PNG?

Philip Fitzpatrick

Port Moresby - the new Hong Kong?

A bit of Chinese law and order wouldn't go astray.

I wonder whether the Chinese would support PNG literature - who do we contact?

Peter Sandery

The latter would be my bet, Paul.

Paul Oates

Is this a case of 'better late than never' or is Canberra playing catch up after years of being warned by posts on this very website that have hitherto either gone unnoticed and in fact just simply been ignored?

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