DENNIS SHANAHAN | The Australian | Edited extract
CANBERRA - China is rapidly outspending Australia in providing aid and ‘gifts’ to Papua New Guinea to ready Port Moresby to host the APEC forum as Australia implores Britain to give more to the South Pacific.
Financial aid from China to the region for “a new world order” has become a vital topic at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London this week before Britain’s departure from the EU and as Chinese influence grows in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
PNG is Australia’s largest single aid recipient but, since Port Moresby was named as the host for the APEC forum in November, China has been pouring in funds — described as gifts.
They include money to build a new convention centre for the APEC leaders, six-lane highways and other massive roadworks to help PNG host its “biggest event in history”.
The convention centre cost is $35 million with a six-lane drive between the centre and parliament estimated to cost at least $40 million. Costs for other projects, including highway upgrades, have not been disclosed.
Australia is providing $108 million supporting PNG’s hosting of the summit.
Australian minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells told British and Commonwealth leaders and officials in London that this year’s CHOGM was being held at a momentous time.
She said there was “a new world order and change of focus in the UK from its closest neighbours to a more expansive view, which we hope will result in a renewed partnerships in the Indo-Pacific”.