China’s Foreign Minister hits back at criticism of aid in Pacific during Papua New Guinea trip – China power
The Chinese Foreign Minister has hit back at criticism of the nation’s aid in the Pacific as the country continues to strengthen ties with Papua New Guinea.
- China is investing billions of dollars of infrastructure into Papua New Guinea
- China’s Foreign Minister insists the funding comes with no strings attached
- He says the two countries are committed to taking bilateral relations “to a new height”
China has been accused of using loans and aid projects to bolster influence in the region, but during his first visit to Papua New Guinea, Wang Yi defended the country’s aid program and said those “pointing fingers” should put their efforts into contributing to the region.
He stood alongside his PNG counterpart, Rimbink Pato, as he insisted the country’s support came with no strings attached.
“In providing assistance, China fully respects the will of governments and people of the countries in question,” Mr Wang said, via a translator.
“We never interfere in other countries’ domestic affairs and our assistance never comes with political conditions.”
However, he did thank PNG for its “strong adherence” to the One China policy.
Australia’s defence and diplomatic community have privately expressed unease about China’s growing influence in PNG, where the Chinese Government is investing billions in infrastructure and business development.
“China is committed to friendship and common interests and we put the greater good before our own interests,” he said.
“To some people, I would say this: rather than pointing fingers at other’s contributions it is better to take the efforts to do more things that will benefit the Pacific island states.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) stood with PNG’s Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato when he said China’s support comes with no strings attached. (ABC News)
PNG’s Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato also defended the countries’ relationship.
“There is no threat to our sovereignty, we are a sovereign nation and so is every other nation of the Pacific,” he said.
‘Nothing will stand in the way of our partnership’
Mr Wang’s visit to PNG is the latest in a series of events that illustrate the growing relationship between the two countries.
His first visit comes ahead of President Xi Jinping’s first visit in a fortnight’s time — he will arrive two days before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit for his own state visit.
The Chinese Foreign Minister said the two countries were committed to working together and taking bilateral relations “to a new height” and said President Xi would be announcing new projects and assistance measures during his trip this month.
“There will be nothing that will stand in the way of our partnership,” Mr Pato said.
“We may have our own traditional alliances, but the way we are moving forward, I can see that there will be nothing that will be an impediment to the alliances that we have in terms of us moving together as partners.”
While there has been an increased focus on China’s contribution in the Pacific, analysis from the Lowy Institute found Australia was still the biggest donor in the region.
Mr Pato said the Pacific “has become very important and has become a contested area for many nations, particularly the developed world”, but he maintained everyone had a part to play.
“We support the partnerships with our longstanding friends, Australia and New Zealand, and we welcome the partnership of China as it seeks to deliver to the development aspirations of our people,” he said.
“Our partnership does not in any way shift the balance of power.
“We will encourage all development partners, including our friends and allies, to have a role to play in the development of our people and our country.”
China said its assistance “never targets at a third party” and said it would welcome more cooperation in the region, including with Australia.
Wang Yi (left), with PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, says the two countries are committed to work together. (ABC News)
Mr Wang said all countries, including China and PNG, had a right to development and to “seize the opportunities” that come with it.
“For China and PNG, our people have the aspiration for faster development and to have a better life,” he said.
“If that is realised, it will make this world more harmonious and more peaceful.
“So China’s development poses no threat to anyone.”
He went on to say that “any attempts to block the development of developing countries” such as China and PNG would “represent a most severe injustice” and would leave a “disgraceful chapter in history”.
ChinaAid to be showcased to the world at APEC
When the world’s political and business leaders arrive in Papua New Guinea for the APEC Leaders’ Summit, it will be hard for them to miss China’s role.
The ChinaAid logo is common site across Port Moresby: a new convention centre built for APEC is branded with it, as are bus stops across the city and new security cameras that hang over streets and freeways.
Mr Pato praised the “remarkable generosity that has sprung out of the hearts of the great Chinese people”.
“We only have to look at the evidence of what is around us how generous China has been to Papua New Guinea as host of APEC.
“They have built the roads on which we are driving around, in comfort and smoothness, this is all a gift.”
PNG’s APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko said China had “contributed significantly” to the success of the APEC year in terms of infrastructure and development aid funding.
But he also rejected concerns that China was trying to assert influence or control in the region.
“We are a sovereign country, no other country controls Papua New Guinea, we control our own destiny,” he said.
“There’s no control or influence of China over Papua New Guinea, it’s a friendship and a partnership.”