Recent Notes 28: Signs of political change
Uncomprehending elites put us in danger

Recent Notes 29: China in the Pacific


PNG Facts reports on the four-day visit by the Chinese naval vessel ship Qi Jiguang to Papua New Guinea. The stay, which ends today, seems aimed at reinforcing relationships with the politicians and military of PNG. “The officers and soldiers of both countries will participate in visits, exchange programs and games,” said China’s ambassador to PNG, Zeng Fanhua.

“This is with the strong support of the PNG Defence Force and other departments,” Zeng said, adding that “under the guidance of the countries’ leaders, the friendship had been moving forward in the Pacific in terms of political exposure. The two countries have frequent exchanges at high level and our political mutual trust has been consolidated.”  PNG defence minister Win Bakri Daki said the PNG-China relationship “goes a long way back in which the country has benefitted a lot from China”.


The independent Asia Society defines itself as ‘a think-and-do tank designed to bring about changes that incorporate the best ideas from top experts in Asia and to work with policy makers to integrate these ideas and put them into practice’. Papua New Guinea’s Dame Meg Taylor has just produced an important paper for the institute on how the rivalry between the United States and China has negatively impacted the aspirations of Pacific Islands countries for a united ocean of peace. Link here to read her full paper

“As the global power competition unfolds around us and we find ourselves caught in the crossfire between the United States and China, our focus must remain on control and unity of our own agenda, on the formidable challenge of the climate crisis, and the development of our region,” Dame Meg writes. “Narratives of neither the United States nor China fully align with our own.

“While the powers fight over which really is the new imperial or the old imperial power, the result is the same for us: dependency and militarisation. I suggest five ways in which we can rise to the challenge: 1 - Assert our identity and the Pacific Way.  2 - Remain friends to all in an ‘Ocean of Peace’.  3 - Continue to progress reforms to regionalism.  4 - Ensure partners support our priorities.  5. Create space for our own leadership.


Percy Allan AM, was NSW Treasury secretary when I knew him slightly during my colourful career in public relations. He was an affable and intellectually curious public servant and, since leaving government work, he’s pursued an active career in academia. He was chair of the Evidence Based Policy Research Project from 2018 to 2022. Read his full article, ‘Why China is not a threat’, in today’s Pearls & Irritations

“The USA and China had a positive relationship until the election of the Trump administration. President Obama called it ‘the most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century’…. China does not have a modern history of being an imperial power. Unlike the USA (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq) and Russia (Afghanistan, Georgia, Ukraine), China has not occupied a foreign nation. It has land boundary disputes with India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Laos, most of which go back to when it was ruled by emperors….

“China’s long-standing foreign policy is expressed in its Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence which are “mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence”…. One can be cynical about such assurances, but if China wanted war, it would be demonising its adversary, not calling for an end to a ‘cold war mentality’.

“Xi’s strongest statement is that ‘Western countries led by the U.S. have implemented comprehensive containment, encirclement and suppression against us, bringing unprecedented severe challenges to our country’s development’. This is a complaint, not a call to war.”


Former deputy secretary of the Department of Immigration, Dr Abul Rizvi, is one of Australia’s finest public intellectuals, especially potent when the discussion turns to Australia’s critical immigration program, now approaching 500,000 permanent arrivals a year. In Pearls & Irritations today he writes on what should happen to the program now the arrant Mike Pezzullo has left in disgrace. Link here for complete article

“While many will focus on [Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo’s] foolhardy relationship with Liberal Party powerbroker Scott Briggs, it was Pezzullo’s creation of Home Affairs, and his failed stewardship of it, that will be his true legacy…. Removing Pezzullo will not be sufficient. The Albanese Government should go much further in putting the disastrous Home Affairs experiment behind us.

“Immigration should go back to being a standalone department with full responsibility for all immigration functions… That includes bringing back responsibility for immigration compliance from Australian Border Force. For it to be effective, immigration compliance must operate hand in hand with immigration policy and administration.

“Taking these officers out of Pezzullo’s dark uniforms and removing their guns would also help change culture from the dark one promoted by Pezzullo. There was never a case for immigration compliance officers to have guns. If there is a potential circumstance where guns may become necessary, the AFP should be called in.”


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