Chinese foreign minister visits PNG

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is about to arrive in Papua New Guinea, where tensions are running high ahead of a national election and an official has told media that Beijing’s proposal to a regional security pact had caused resentment.

The timing of Wang’s visit was also criticized by former Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, who is campaigning for the top job, in a series of media interviews in which he said no agreement should be signed with China before the election.

It would be “inappropriate” for China to donate security equipment or offer security support for the election, the Post Courier newspaper said on Thursday, quoting O’Neill, after Australian broadcaster ABC reported that Beijing would offer 2,000 bulletproof vest kits to the police during Wang’s visit. .

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Wang is on tour in eight Pacific island countries where he signed a series of bilateral agreements on trade, fisheries, infrastructure and the supply of police equipment.

On Monday, a virtual meeting hosted by Wang in Fiji with counterparts from 10 island nations postponed consideration of a broad regional deal covering police, security, fisheries, data and a free trade zone, proposed by China.

The United States and its allies have expressed concern over Beijing’s ambitions over security ties with Pacific island nations, which control large areas of resource-rich oceans and access to a region of military importance. strategic.

Several Pacific countries have said they oppose the deal or need more time to consider its regional implications.

“There has been resentment over the Pacific agreement on security issues,” Papua New Guinea Foreign Secretary Elias Wohengu was quoted as saying by the Post Courier.

He said Papua New Guinea was unlikely to sign a security deal.

“On PNG’s security status, we will take care of that ourselves,” he said.

Resource-rich Papua New Guinea has defense ties with its close neighbor Australia, which has agreed to upgrade a naval base there.

Papua New Guinea is looking to increase sales to China for its LNG project.

Wang will meet his counterpart Soroi Eoe on Friday and pay a brief courtesy visit to Prime Minister James Marape, and is expected to sign an investment and energy agreement, the Post Courier reported.