It was truly a night to remember
Executed for helping the wrong side

Bougainville spurns Chinese referendum money

Bougainville-flagJONATHAN BARRETT | Reuters | Extracts

SYDNEY - The United States and its Pacific allies have plugged a funding gap that endangered next month’s independence referendum in Bougainville, a strategic move that also sidelines China.

Western nations are looking to rein in China’s influence in the increasingly contested Pacific, where it has recently drawn away two of Taiwan’s allies, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands, triggering a strong rebuke from the United States.

The vote in PNG’s autonomous region of Bougainville, formerly the site of a bloody civil conflict, will run from 23 November to 7 December, and could trigger separation negotiations to create a new nation in the strategic waters of the Pacific.

Two sources with direct knowledge of the arrangements in Bougainville told Reuters that China was not blocked from helping fund the referendum, but neither was it invited to contribute when the shortfall emerged.

“It’s just that the invitation never arrived, or, rather, was never sent,” one source said.

The second source said the West wanted to limit China’s engagement with what could soon be the world’s newest nation, strategically located in waters separating Asia and the Americas.

China’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on whether it was involved in discussions to assist in the referendum.

“China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and respects the independent choices of people in all countries,” it said in a statement.

The funding shortfall emerged early this year amid preparations, overseen by former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, to register the votes of 300,000 people.

The United States, along with Australia, New Zealand and Japan, helped plug the funding gap of K7.1 million kina, according to a breakdown of funding arrangements provided to Reuters by the Bougainville Referendum Commission.

PNG is the biggest contributor to the referendum, setting aside K18.7 million kina. The commission did not respond to questions why China, a major financier to PNG and the region, did not contribute.

The referendum is part of a peace process negotiated at the end of a decade-long conflict in 1998 largely focused on how to allocate profit from the now shuttered Panguna gold and copper mine.

There was also discord over the environmental impact of the mining operations.

The conflict between Bougainville’s rebel guerrilla army and PNG forces killed as many as 20,000, the worst violence in the region known as Oceania since World War II.

Since the conflict, there has been little development in the resource-rich region, the former economic powerhouse of PNG.


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Arthur Williams

Wait a minute anti-Trump folk would say, Oz, USA, NZ and Japan are interfering in the internal affairs of another nation especially during an election. Oh I forgot it’s only wrong sometimes! That’s our type of democracy.

I liked this Chinese take on the USA’s version of democracy at in the ‘Global Times’ 16 March 2016, 'Mussolini and Hitler came to power through elections, a heavy lesson for western democracy':

“Trump, or Chuanpu as they call him in China, has been a gift to Communist party spin doctors paid to convince the country’s 1.4 billion citizens that rule of the people is a sure path to chaos and destruction.

"They are relishing this moment,” says Zhou Fengsuo, a US-based democracy activist who fled his native China following the deadly 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.

“They are very happy. They are laughing over this. To them [Trump] is a good character to show the deficiencies of the democratic system, that such a person could become president. It is just unbelievable. Beijing is definitely gloating over this.”

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