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APEC PNG wrap: Bad vibes, ugly scenes & no communiqué

APEC leaders 2018
APEC leaders in their finery: The meeting of leaders was an ugly contest between China and the US. And let's not forget the expense

KATHARINE MURPHY | Guardian Australia | Extract

SYDNEY - The APEC summit has been unable to produce a joint communiqué because of tensions between the US and China over trade and security issues which flared throughout the gathering of regional leaders.

While Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, had struck an upbeat note as APEC drew to a close, declaring that Washington and Beijing were getting closer to resolving a trade war that threatens economic growth in the region, the Port Moresby summit failed to reach consensus on a concluding statement because of differences between the major powers.

The APEC summit saw Australia, Japan and the US push back against Chinese efforts to use spending through the Belt and Road initiative to gain influence in the Pacific.

The US also issued a pointed warning about the dangers of Pacific nations compromising their sovereignty by accepting high levels of debt through infrastructure loans.

There was also muscling up with military facilities. Australia and the US have agreed to construct the Lombrum naval base on Manus Island – a port China had expressed interest in developing – and the US vice-president, Mike Pence, made it clear that shipping lanes needed to remain open.

As well as the unresolved tensions about security and economic issues on display at the Port Moresby summit, the ABC also reported there was a diplomatic incident involving a group of Chinese officials who attempted to force their way in to the office of the Papua New Guinean foreign minister, Rimbink Pato, after being denied a meeting on Saturday afternoon.

The report said the Chinese officials wanted a discussion with Pato about the wording of the communiqué to be released at the conclusion of the summit, and security was called, before the group left.

PNG’s prime minister, Peter O’Neill was clear about the cause of the breakdown in consensus on Sunday night, referring to “the two big giants in the room”.

He said the dispute prevented the release of a communiqué centred on “reform of the World Trade Organization”. O’Neill said WTO issues were outside APEC’s remit: “Those matters can be raised at the World Trade Organisation.”


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Michael Dom

Martin, stop. You're making so much sense you might crash their server.

Arthur Williams

Well there you go that was a good knees up for the elites paid for by the have-nots. Olman, how my wantoks are quick to spot a chance.

Yesterday evening I got a text from one of my extended family on Lavongai:

"Tambu inap yu ken halivim mi long kisim wanpela long ol dispel Masta-Rati ka. Long wanem buldog bilong mipela emi bagarap istap. Mi tingting planti long dispela waitpela ka sapos mi rausim tri-pela sit insait em inap long holim planti bag kakau o buai igo long nambis.

"Olsem wanem yu inap long usim ManiKwik long givim family bilong yu halivim pastaim. Nogut ol blari kongkong baiim. Tenkyu long harim krai bilong olgera tambu long yupela long as ples Meterankang.

"Sori long mipela askim. Traiim tasol."

The internet will help I thought so I searched ‘APEC 2018’. There are just a mere 4,680,000 results or just enough to spend the next 12 months 24 x 365 reading them before we start again APEC 2019, Chile. So a few snippets for anyone too lazy or not interested to read all of them.

My subsistence tambu made me wonder if I could get the unused NZ Maserati which PM Jacinda Ardern refused to ride in, apparently explaining her annoyance at PNG wasting the millions NZ gave for earthquake relief.

Sadly not so unusual these days, the Post Courier spelt her name wrong missing the second ‘R’. I found no information of whether she brought her five month old baby to the APEC meeting. She apparently did so back in NZ parliament precincts.

Wonder if she whipped one out for the child to gobble like the Australian Senator Larissa Waters who now qualifies for a spot in Oz Guinness Book of Records.

Jacinda a one-time adviser to Tony Blair was proud of being only second to Mrs Bhutto for a world leader giving birth while in office. Sadly the Asian leader got assassinated in 2007.

Mind NZ is good for the females of the species as they were also second only to the Isle of Man (1881) in giving the vote to women in 1893. Though in the patriarchal world of politics NZ’s first female MP wasn’t till forty years later.

Unlike PNG which had Josephine Abaijah as its first ever MP in the House of Assembly as long ago as 1972 whereas now 46 years later there is no lady member in Waigani.

At least one absentee was noted in PNG media, the president of Mexico. The paper didn’t give his name perhaps because they weren’t sure of who was coming after the August 2018 presidential election. In fact Enrique Peña Nieto the incumbent is finishing on 1 December when Andrés Manuel López Obrador takes office.

The media could have found out as I did that annually on the 3rd Monday in November is known as Revolution Day and so a special Public Holiday which I guess was more important for the outgoing guy to attend as perhaps his last emotional official duty.

Another absentee but only on the last day was the president Duterte of the Philippines. I hope his pilot got him home safely. In 2016 on his way back from APEC Peru the UK’s Daily Mail reported two beaut stories about ‘The Punisher’ when he visited Auckland.

He said, “Firstly I'd like to thank the Australian government, sorry the New Zealand government.” Then a female journalist of the NZ Herald asked the president whether he would return to New Zealand, to which Duterte replied, 'Pag niyaya mo ako [if you invite me]... are you married?”

I am also worried because an unnamed source in a leaked story says that at the same time as he ran away from Moresby one of the 10 Chinese official cooks disappeared.

Some say he might have been redundant and wanted to get back home quickly. Apparently friendly Duterte said, “I’ll drop you off! After all we are going near the Spratly Islands”.

Did his surprise traveller from China put something in his presidential host’s drink or perhaps the president himself smuggled out some coconut ‘jungle juice’ from Tatana. I was surprised to learn that he has 40,000 wantoks living and working in PNG apparently they all have work permits. What are they doing?

President Sebastian Pinera of Chile also did a smart get away but at least enjoyed the banquet before leaving on Sunday for more of the same on a state visit to NZ arranged by Jacinda Ardern said a NZ government press release

I see PNG’s foreign minister with an unfortunate surname got 700,000 exercise books from the also amusingly named foreign affairs minister of Japan Taro Kono. What a combination of names I can imagine some smirks from PNG flunkies when the two men were introduced.

Pato has allegedly spoken with his colleague the health minister Sir Puka Temu to see if Borneo Pharma could distribute them quickly for PNG.

A now denied rumour was that some obviously high on Mijiu wine visitors either from the China’s delegation or accompanying businessmen almost invaded the foreign ministry because they were hankering after some meat to go with their noodles.

A worker from a logging company had said in a mix of broken English and Pidgin, “Igat Pato in that office!” If my tambu in Meterankang is reading this – ‘Sori tumas Long bagarpim neim bilong yu!’ Guess they wanted a bowl of Peking Duck or in the modern PC correct spelling Beijing Duck.

It was fitting to see Christine Lagarde the head of IMF with PM O’Neill. Ironic because she got caught, tried and found guilty over her role in a tiny (to IMF) £340 million fraud payout.

However her fellow Davos elites were delighted that she was let off for another five years in her worldwide IMF role but especially without any criminal record. You know the old saying: ‘Birds of a feather stick together!’

I suppose she was able to provide Peter with some good advice on the justice front. After all The IMF said that they had full confidence in her as did the French government spokesperson.

Obviously Lagarde wasn’t but were any of you economically illiterate like me and didn’t know what the headline 'term Sheet'in a media release meant.

The Term Sheet in question was about a loan being signed by the PNG Minister for Treasury and Chinese President on the 16th of November 2018. Is it anything to do with those 700000 exercise books? Surely PNG hasn’t got to refund Japan for them.

To some it must be comforting to know big business has your best interest at heart when it signs a MoU. This one from Total concerning the LNG project in the Papuan Gulf. They said they want to ‘maximise profits for the nation’ and added succinctly ‘and for our shareholders.’

The company, its partners, the PNG PM and his resource ministers all studiously avoid the demands of the Gulf people for a refinery to be built in the impoverished province.

In all PM O’Neill’s government signed 14 MoUs with the Chinese president. Of which six were described in the local media.

Australia manged to get the USA and PNG on side with support for a renewed naval base at the historic WW2 Seeadler Harbour on Manus that had allowed Rabaul and Kavieng to be bombed but remain uninvaded and just left to starve and wither.

Similarly to the Total story this was contrary to the Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin’s media release on the same day stating: ‘Keep Australia away from Lombrum.’

Finally I have two important notices:

First the Motuan families starved of fish can now send their father and sons into their customary fishing grounds around Fairfax Harbour.

Secondly I give advance notice of a meeting next year advising all Unpaid Providers of Services to the Government for APEC 2018 should meet on Ela Beach if it has been reopened to the public and they could be paid after the remaining unpaid accounts for the 2009 Benefit Sharing Agreement in Rabaul and teachers’ pays have been settled.

Martin Auld

'What is really disappointing is the lack of interest by the Australian press'.

Disappointing but predictable. PNG doesn't get to define what the news is going to be. Journalists in PNG need to step away from their reliance on the Anglosphere and learn one or two of Japanese, Mandarin and Bahasa. It's a big ask, Australian journos remain defiantly monolingual and have failed the Asian century challenge Keating set for us in the 90s.

Re the communique. There should have been an agreed draft before APEC even began. This is what diplomats are paid for.

Michael Dom

Finery? More like a whole lot of wankers Made in China.

Paul Oates

Phil, I think I see the strategy that has been allowed to develop.

The only change that can be made to how things are at the top in PNG is a matter for PNG alone.

Friendly nations must just accept this aspect and work within the paradigms that exist at the moment. Clearly many other nations have already acknowledged this strategy.

Philip Fitzpatrick

It would be interesting to know what sort of impact those stories critical of PNG that came out in the international press leading up to APEC have had - how do you measure such a thing.

What is really disappointing is the lack of interest by the Australian press. They seem only interested in what Scomo does and says, hoping, I suspect, for him to trip up again. This doesn't surprise me of course.

As for the delegates, it seems they have been successfully confined to the flashy venues. Looking at the pictures, they could be anywhere in the world, Mosbi or New York.

I suspect that the delegates probably couldn't care less that PNG is a social and financial disaster. They probably already know that O'Neill is corrupt but so are they.

What was really needed was Trump being there and declaring PNG a 'shit' country, as he is apt to do. That might have sparked some interest in the place.

My impression still remains that O'Neill has got away with it - at least for now.

Lindsay F Bond

A meeting if a little less, a meeting is tad made less, viewed in dress, vied by stress, can addressed hopes fix human’s mess?

Philip Fitzpatrick

At first glance Peter O'Neill seems to have come through APEC looking pretty good.

I'm not sure it was a stroke of good luck or something anticipated but the Yanks and Chinese seemed to successfully divert everyone's attention to them, including all the breathless journalists.

Whether those journalists got out to see the darker side of Mosbi might become apparent in the next few weeks when they start to file their less sensational stories.

If that doesn't happen O'Neill will be home free.

Except for the fall-out from stories like these…..KJ

Papua New Guinea Has Few Good Roads, but a Fleet of Maseratis - New York Times

Papua New Guinea PM's firm won $32m contract despite 'serious irregularities' - The Guardian

Corruption allegations surround PNG PM's company - Radio New Zealand

Expensive APEC summit sows division in host Papua New Guinea - Associated Press

APEC summit in crime-ridden Port Moresby houses attendees on cruise ships - Japan Times

Papua New Guinea Is Rich in Resources but Poor in Health - New York Times

Global Leaders Converge on Pacific Island—Just Don’t Ask Them to Stay There - Wall Street Journal

Poverty-stricken state Papua New Guinea spends £5.5m on limos - The Times

Arthur Williams

Ideal choice!
For immediate sale
One owner
Low mileage
FORTY Maserati Quattroporte sedans
V6 Ferrari engines - top speed 275 kph

Caveat: Only suitable for a few Port Moresby roads. Spare parts available from Sri Lanka. Ash trays may not have been emptied

Offers over K50,000 but depends on your nationality.

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