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« Nine things you need to know about this APEC leaders’ week | Main | PNG roll out red carpet for APEC but locals live in poverty »

11 November 2018

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I have a friend who decided to teach English as second language in Slovenia. I always thought I was good at geography but couldn’t remember what its capital is. Wikipedia gave the answer as Ljubljana.

Perhaps why I didn’t recall it was it had been part of Yugoslavia when I was in school.

It is not of course to be confused with Slovakia as did the International Hockey Federation in 2017 when it played Slovenia’s national anthem when Slovakia beat Italy. Mind they are in good company as Presidents George W Bush and Berlusconi have also publicly made the mistake.

At least the current USA President shouldn’t get confused because his wife is from Slovenia. Mind you his first wife is from Czechoslovakia.

I found out such international faux pas are not unique as in ‘2016 Copa America’ Played Chile’s anthem instead of Uruguay’s.

The New Ireland provincial government's flag was illegal until we voted in the assembly to correct its colours.

The first Europeans who had contact with the Imperial Chinese government regarded their bureaucrats and officials as deeply inscrutable.

The Chinese had been trained to not reveal any indication of their true feelings or intentions to those they dealt with and, so it is said, often replied to direct questions with ambiguous answers.

Chinese language and symbology was and is similarly ambiguous. Slight changes in tone of voice can alter the meaning of a word or sentence. Similarly, written Chinese figures are full of subtleties and nuances.

In short, Chinese bureaucrats have long been the masters of using subtlety and ambiguity in saying one thing while meaning another.

I am sure that the lanterns on display in Port Moresby are, at one level at least, merely decoration. However, as many astute Papua New Guineans have realised, they also send another message.

That message is that China's power and authority has grown to the point where ostentatious displays of its cultural icons cannot be refused by those in power or, perhaps, are simply unrecognised as such.

PNG is on the path to becoming a tributary state to China: the loans and favours it has received will allow China to remorselessly tighten its grip on PNG's political and business elites.

This has been the modus operandi of the Chinese state over many millennia and the mere fact that the current government is ostensibly communist does not mean that this has changed.

By the time the powers that be in PNG become fully aware of their peril, I expect that it will be far too late to reverse course.

The Australian government has been gravely remiss in failing to understand what has been happening until far too late.

Its near panic reaction in "rediscovering" the Pacific nations to the north is belated recognition of this fact.

What damn fools they have been.

When Bob Hawke visited Ottawa in 1985 the New Zealand flag was mistakenly raised in his honour:

http://www.ausflag.com.au/a_flag_of_inconvenience.asp

Australia and DFAT have definitely missed out here.

Where are all the Australian icons? Blokes in slouch hats, bouncing kangaroos, boomerangs et al.

Kongkongs rule?

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