Personal reflections on 14 days in China
Claims of workers’ rights violations in PNG

Nationalism & Confucianism are China’s keys


Yegiora_Bernard THE AUTONOMOUS Bougainville Government is attracted by Chinese soft power because of the experience of President John Momis as the former Ambassador to China.

Elites play a great role in shaping the future of a nation, in PNG’s case, a special administrative region like Bougainville.

In history, American elites during the early years of the Union were attracted by French values after the French revolution. Currently, the US is trying to influence other nations to want what it wants, that is to be democratic.

Western educated elites with their experience of living in a western democratic society have been in the forefront of the democratisation process.

Rapid economic growth has given China the strength to build up its soft power resources. The increase in Confucius Institutes teaching Chinese culture and language around the world and the promotion of the Great Wall as a tourist hotspot, were all made possible because of the "open door policy" mentioned by Fr John Koran.

Fr Koran asks, "Where do they [the Chinese] get the energy to continue developing and changing China?" Well, the simple answer is nationalism.

This has pushed people to work hard to show their former colonisers or other nations that they deserve to be in control of their own destiny, and it is not right for a foreign power to have dominion over them.

With this logic, we can conclude that the concept of nationalism gave its people the motivation and energy to transform China.

Secondly it was asked “what fundamental values enabled [the Chinese] to achieve so much in a short period of time.”

Confucian values of respect for hierarchy (shown in the relationships between king-subject, husband-wife, teacher-student big brother-small brother, old-young) is by far the most influential value that has enabled them to achieve so much.

The rising middle class and low income earners, including the people in rural areas, have great respect for the government and what it is doing.

This is despite reports in the Western media about people being moved from one area to another by the government to create space for new development, low wages for workers in factories, and other criticisms.

People respect the government because of its successful continuing record of changing China from an impoverished nation to one that can adequately feed and clothe its citizens.

In our society we have individual liberty and freedom of expression permitting us to criticise what the government is doing. We also use the media, interest groups and unions to challenge what the government is doing.

But the two important factors I have mentioned will help you to have a fair idea about the answers to questions about what is motivating the Chinese citizenry.

Bernard Yegiora is a Papua New Guinean student studying for a Masters degree in International Relations at the Institute of International Studies in China's Jilin University. His research interest is in Chinese culture and soft power: how China can use culture as an element of soft power to improve its tarnished international image through increased public diplomacy.


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Neil Everett

It may well be that the picture of China's expansion into the Pacific, South America, Middle East and Africa, as explained on this blog, is quite accurate.

In recent weeks, we read of China massively investing in Chile and India. China is moving like a lava flow, covering all that lies ahead.

As in all economic expansion in history, the military comes along to protect interests. There will be Chinese naval bases in Pakistan, India and the South Pacific. Try Fiji for example.

Jack Corrie

After reading the report below, I have been amazed at just how active China has been in the world over the last 20 years.

China has systematically gone through the world and sought raw materials and funding to provide infrastructure support. Read the document above carefully and you will be overawed at the diplomatic initiatives.

There are countries that have surprisingly friendly relations with China. Territorial disputes with Russia have dropped and China is Russia’s major customer in oil and gas piped over thousands of kilometers into China.

China is a major buyer of armaments from Russia including the latest technical advances in weaponry and delivery systems. China is a major buyer of Middle East oil which is being piped to China. Oil from Russia is also being transported from Russia by the Trans-Siberian railway.

Read of the support to African nations. It is mind boggling. Aid of billions has been poured into Africa. Railways have been built.

In another report there was advice of the railway line built to link the holy Moslem cities to make travel easier for pilgrims.

China presents such a complex picture to the world that it is impossible to pin down criticisms. There are so many criticisms from human rights to pollution to dumping of goods to low currency.

It seems that China is getting raw materials from everywhere. They are not putting their eggs into one basket. They are putting eggs into a thousand baskets. Nothing that any one country can do will make any difference.

China’s huge navy may be set up so that China can deal with a hundred trouble spots at the same time.

I am not supporting China in what I write, or opposing. I just bow to reality. China has gone global.

China has a disgraceful environment record. It will be a major contributor to global warming. China treats the Uighurs and Tibetans inhumanely. But what can we do?

No country can afford to oppose China. The balance of payments is so great even with small countries. China takes raw material and sells goods.

The report above says China deals better than the west with dictatorships in the developing world because they never take them to task for human rights abuses.

Reginald Renagi

Eric - The Somali Pirates will go on plundering the high seas (raids over 1,000 nautical miles offshore).

Their government will pretend impotence to stop them, citing resource constraints as their problem.

They want this to continue as the pirates are meeting a national need that the government cannot - of feeding the poor from the proceeds of ransom money for the stolen vessels at sea.

These Somali pirates are really modern day "Robin Hoods".

The government sees their usefulness. They pretend to be concerned but really allow the pirates to steal from the rich countries (by hijacking ships at sea) for a ransom before releasing them to their owners.

On the whole, it is a win-win situation for a poor country like Somalia where the pirates are indirectly doing a favour for the government.

But a lose-win for the foreign countries whose navy is in this region to use coastal surveillance as a deterrent strategy against pirate activities and other transnational security concerns.

But really what they are doing is also keeping strategic surveillance on the activities of the other country's navies in the area (all spying on each others naval activities).

Eric Taylor

There is a report in the Post-Courier today that the Somali pirates are getting the upper hand and moving to control sea lanes from the Horn of Africa to India.

The navies of NATO countries including Canada, China, Japan, India have been unable to stop the pirates as each navy is bound by laws and regulations.

It strikes me that none of the governments concerned wants to end the problem as the movement of ships from these navies is providing the best peace-time electronic surveillance ever.

This is a never-ending war game. I am sure that with a little satellite surveillance of pirate skiffs and their mother ship, a few well directed guided missiles would put the pirate menace to an end. Every mother ship could be sent to the bottom of the ocean.

These are war games off the coast of Australia which may become real one day. The Indian Ocean is quite small. We have to acknowledge the danger and then go back to living in peace.

Barbara Short

Nickel was first discovered in New Caledonia in 1863 by engineer Jules Garnier, who demonstrated that an alloy of nickel and steel rendered the latter inoxidisable, i.e., it wouldn't rust!

Ten years later the first production furnace was installed to refine the metal. In 1880 Le Nickel was founded. By the mid 1970s it had an annual production of 80,000 tons of refined metal. It was the main employer of the island and the company played a crucial role in the development of the island.

When I visited Noumea in the mid 1970s huge columns of smoke rose from the chimneys of the Doniambo refinery, the industrial centre not far from the progressive city.

I'm all for mining, as long as it is done in an environmentally friendly way and that the local people benefit from the mine.
I'm sure New Caledonia could teach PNG a thing or two about nickel mining.

Jack Corrie

Robert Palmer - I feel you do not understand the future prospects if there is war with China. We have never seen China initiate a war and we can expect they will not obey the rules, like the Japanese.

You talk of navies of nations but it may be that any aggressive action by China will commence with a massive simultaneous pre-emptive strike on the dockyards of several nations. If they cannot carry on a protracted war, they may end the war in days. But there will be a counter attack.

Neil Appleby - I have read and respect your thoughts on territorial designs starting with the nations on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

But your view that the US would win may not accord with reality. Please read the report from the South Korean newspaper and you may conclude that if you were up-to-date five years ago, you are not so at the present time.

China is going at full pace to outstrip the other world nations and this appears not to be defensive. Am I sinophobic? Of course. I hope my grandchildren will grow to raise children in a peaceful world.

Eric Taylor

Rod - The size of the fleets is a matter for concern with what seems like an arms build up in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

But there are still unanswered questions. Can all fleets handle blue water combat?

Can the navies handle nuclear powered ships under combat conditions? The Soviet navy was having problems to the very last.

Can the Chinese submarines stay under the sea for prolonged periods?

Are the Chinese ships able to be refuelled at sea?

Or are they mainly 'hit and run'. Can the Chinese ships carry out prolonged cat and mouse tactics as the US and Soviet navies used to do?

If yes, yes, yes, yes, the US has problems.

Laurie Meintjes

I suspect that Bernard is already trying his luck simply by being in China.

And if, upon his graduation and return to PNG, that luck should carry him into some relatively well-paid role in which he can bring some sense into PNG's stance toward China, then that might not be a bad thing.

I say let him be.

Bernard Yegiora

Neil - Why should I try my luck, when we are all merely voicing our opinions.

My interest is to understand the Chinese culture and society in order to educate Papua New Guineans.

David Kitchnoge

If life back home is that good, I fail to understand the large influx of Chinese to places like PNG scavenging for opportunities to make something of their lives.

But in saying that, we do welcome genuine Chinese who are here to make a fair return on their investments.

And their engagement in PNG must always be on our terms and not theirs. PNG officials must always insist that Chinese (and indeed all foreigners) respect our laws and play by our rules at all times.

There must be no room to negotiate our rules as far as trade, investment and migrations are concerned. They are our safety net and we must hold fast to our own rules and laws regardless.

There is no point in being 'wowed' by China or whoever. We already have a very workable system. All we need to do is to stop corrupting that system and focus on making it work for us.

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