PNG roll out red carpet for APEC but locals live in poverty
APEC official 'Silver Fox' believed to be operating illegally in PNG

‘Damn fool’ Australians slow to understand Chinese incursion

Decorative Chinese lanterns
Decorative Chinese lanterns hung in Port Moresby for APEC (Ben Jackson)


ADELAIDE - 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.


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Arthur Williams

Guess no matter what baubles were on display if you looked on the back of them you would see ‘Made In China’.

If the items contain iron they would most likely be part of Oz exports of over 44 million tonnes shipped from Australia or about 85% of all its iron ore exports last year.

Lindsay F Bond

Australian politician shams a bus ride but was not aboard on the low roads.

PNG's APEC visiting leaders are unlikely to be aboard lowly unarmoured masquerade roadsters.

Amassing ride, amazing hide.

Mark Davis

Gravely remiss and near panic do not do justice to the reality.

It has been hard to bear the culpable stupidity and ignorance of DFAT and other bureaucrats and and a succession of political clowns, culminating in the current lot, over 40 years.

Chris Overland

While I partially agree with your comments, Paul, you cannot really blame the punters in this case.

The political class (which is now an identifiable group, not merely an abstract construct) have encouraged the punters to behave in the manner you describe because it suits their political interests to do so.

Basically, the less people pay attention the more room politicians have for manoeuvre in their endless power games. Distraction, dissembling, deflection and dog whistling are the name of the game.

This partially explains why a group malcontents with the LNP could think that they would get away with engineering a coup against our most recently politically assassinated PM.

For all that, there may still be enough of us paying attention to make a difference but the next few electoral cycles will tell the story I guess.

Paul Oates

Sorry Chris. The real damn fools have been the voters who turned their backs on reality and immersed themselves in football, beer, mobile phone technology and anything that didn't require constructive thought about what was going on to our near north.

Our politicians have refused to engage in anything like an intelligent discussion about what people want and have obfuscated the truth to the extent no one now knows what is fake news, Hyperbole or serious facts.

When the time comes that those who willingly turned a blind eye because it was the easiest start howling 'why didn't someone do something?'

At least this blog will be able to point to years of continual reports and information about how the situation was developing.

Small satisfaction that will be of course.

Robin Lillicrapp

Shades of Venezuela.

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