Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape is visiting Australia this week as his counterpart Scott Morrison is hosting an international leader for the first time since he was re-elected as prime minister in May.
There are many topics to cover during the visit including trade, foreign policy, asylum seekers, refugees and the establishment of a naval base.
On the matter of Chinese investments in Papua New Guinea and the fear among Australian lawmakers that China’s influence is growing in their back yard, Marape provided a firm response.
Every businessman and woman is welcome in our country, and the Chinese investors will not receive any special treatment and preference, just like Australian investors will not receive any special favour or treatment – said James Marape during a press conference.
While this might be tough talk in terms of foreign relations, it doesn’t necessarily present a warm welcome for businessmen who want special treatment and preference – or at the very least the impression of special treatment.
Marape has also made it clear that he’s looking for opportunities to diversify the PNG economy and is particularly focused on growing the agricultural sector. This will require substantial investment in infrastructure to supply domestic and export markets.
In addition to the economic questions, Australia’s defence minister announced it will create a military force aimed at countering growing Chinese influence in the Pacific.
The unit will include an expeditionary training force to work alongside South Pacific nations such as Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea and will provide increased military support for the Pacific’s island states.