Papua New Guinea can’t afford Australia and US standoff with China, James Marape warns

PNG prime minister tells west ‘your enemy is not our enemy’ as he tries to steer clear of geopolitical struggle gripping the Pacific

The prime minister of Papua New Guinea has warned that his country will not be caught in a “standoff” between the US, Australia and China, as geopolitical tensions in the Pacific increase, warning the global powers to “keep your fights to yourselves”.

“Our nation is still an emerging economy, we cannot afford the standoff between our trading partners,” James Marape told the Guardian while on a visit to Sydney for a petroleum and mining conference.

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China holds talks on policing with Pacific island officials

Two countries said their police chiefs were unable to attend video meeting chaired by Chinese and Solomon Islands ministers

China said it held a video meeting to discuss police cooperation with a group of Pacific island nations on Tuesday, however at least two nations told Reuters their ministers and police commissioners had been unavailable to attend.

China’s attempt to strike a security and trade deal with 10 Pacific island nations in May fuelled concern in Washington and Canberra about Beijing’s military ambitions in the region, and prompted a boost in western aid.

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Record support during Covid and declining funding from China: what new data on Pacific aid reveals

Lowy Institute’s Pacific Aid Map charts thousands of projects and activities from 67 donor entities, including Australia and the US

China is funnelling aid to Kiribati and Solomon Islands, while its overall spending in the Pacific region is in decline, the latest Pacific Aid Map reveals.

The Lowy Institute on Monday released its 2022 updated version of the map, an interactive analytical tool that enables users to track aid flow and development funding in the Pacific.

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More than 30 dead in tribal fighting on Papua New Guinea’s ‘island of love’

Another 15 people are missing after tensions between two groups boiled over into violence

Tribal warfare on Kiriwina Island in Papua New Guinea’s east has left 32 people dead and 15 others missing, with fighting continuing.

The fighting erupted on Monday between the Kulumata and Kuboma people on the island, which is in Milne Bay province.

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Fighting off the bulldozers in the sacred kwila forests of Papua New Guinea

Villagers are pushing back against logging operations they say are encroaching on designated conservation areas

In mid-May, a bulldozer began clearing a logging road into an area of largely untouched rainforest near the village of Suburam, on Papua New Guinea’s north coast, between the mountains of the Adelbert Range and the Bismarck Sea.

Towering kwila trees were among those locals say were felled by loggers. This is a coveted, high-value species that yields the rich red timber familiar in Australia as merbau.

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PNG election violence: 90,000 displaced since May, 25,000 children unable to attend school

Fighting since country’s election in July has continued in the highlands, with women and children most vulnerable

An estimated 90,000 people have been displaced by violence in the highlands of Papua New Guinea since May, with about 25,000 children unable to attend school and reports of rape, kidnapping and other violence, say the UN and local officials.

The fighting has been related in many cases to the recent national elections, in which around 50 people were killed and schools and other public buildings burnt down.

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Turtle concern: Australian businessman denies threatening to sell Conflict Islands to China

Ian Gowrie-Smith says he was frustrated the Australian government did not respond to urgent funding request for turtle conservation

The owner of 21 tropical islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea says he never threatened to sell them to China and his main aim is to save the turtles that nest there.

Ian Gowrie-Smith, an Australian businessman and investor, bought the Conflict Islands, which lie less than 1,000km from the Australian coast, almost two decades ago.

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Under our monarchy, a deeply unequal world flourished | Letters

Readers respond to Afua Hirsch’s article calling for Britain to confront the painful truth of its colonial past

Afua Hirsch’s article explicitly describes the everlasting damage created in the name of colonialism (This is a Britain that has lost its Queen – and the luxury of denial about its past, 13 September). I saw first-hand the ongoing horrors and cruelty of this in the 25 years that I worked for the international trade union movement in Africa, Asia and the South Pacific islands.

Land was taken over to grow food for the west so it got used to having cheap pineapples and mangoes all year round. Rubber and palm oil plantations in Malaysia destroyed soil and reduced the amount of land for domestic farming. Mines ruined people’s lives and created civil disturbance in Papua New Guinea – the list is endless.

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Papua New Guinea earthquake: seven dead amid fears more are buried under landslides

Community leaders are searching for people they fear may be buried under landslides triggered by a magnitude 7.6 quake on Sunday

The death toll from a magnitude 7.6 magnitude earthquake that hit Papua New Guinea on Sunday has risen to seven, and authorities fear many more could be missing, dead, or buried under landslides.

The earthquake struck in the Markham Valley, in Morobe, on the north coast of Papua New Guinea, and was followed by a second 5.0 magnitude earthquake.

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Papua New Guinea PM takes out advert urging journalists to stop calling him direct

Notice in two major newspapers asks reporters to use ministerial emails instead of contacting James Marape

The Papua New Guinean prime minister’s office has taken out a full page advertisement in the country’s two major newspapers urging journalists to stop calling and texting him directly.

“This circular is to advise all members of the media fraternity, both national and international, that the Prime Minister Hon. James Marape MP will no longer accept direct press enquiries from the date of this correspondence onwards,” said the public notice published in the Post Courier and the National on Friday.

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Papua New Guinea hopes to have Australia security deal signed by end of year

Country’s foreign minister says China’s interest in the Pacific required a ‘strengthened’ PNG-Australia treaty

Papua New Guinea hopes to sign a security deal with Australia, as well as possibly New Zealand and the US, by the end of the year, the country’s foreign minister Justin Tkatchenko has said.

Tkatchenko said the security treaty with Australia has been in the works since 2019, but that the recent security deal struck between China and Solomon Islands would require Australia and Papua New Guinea to strengthen the treaty.

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Papua New Guinea brings in minister for coffee

Prime minister says new appointment shows the government’s commitment to expanding key agriculture industries

The Papua New Guinean prime minister has announced his cabinet, which contains not only some new faces, but some new positions as well, including a minister for coffee.

The post – believed to be a world first – shows the government’s commitment to expanding key agriculture industries, said the prime minister James Marape, who won re-election earlier this month after an election plagued by violence and allegations of voter fraud. For the first time Marape also named a minister for palm oil.

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Papua New Guinea’s undocumented children face ‘perfect storm of vulnerability’

Just 15% of children in PNG have their birth registered. Without a birth certificate, trafficking and exploitation are far easier

When 11-year-old Mary’s mother remarried after her husband’s death, Mary was left in the care of an aunt who exploited her.

Her aunt sent Mary out on to the streets of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea’s capital, to sell small goods and forced her to slave at domestic work around the house. Mary has never been to school and is illiterate.

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James Marape returned as prime minister in Papua New Guinea after fraught election

Marape, leader of PNG since 2019, defeated ex-PM Peter O’Neill in an election plagued by violence and electoral fraud

James Marape has been returned as Papua New Guinea’s prime minister for its 11th parliament after a fraught and violent election period that has run for roughly six weeks.

Marape – who became prime minister in 2019 after toppling his predecessor and former party leader, Peter O’Neill – was invited to form government by the governor general, after his Pangu Pati secured 36 seats and was able to strike deals with coalition partners to bring its numbers to more than 80.

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Shouldering the weight of four million women: PNG elects its first female MP in a decade

Rufina Peter is just the eighth woman elected in Papua New Guinea. But the economist has been battling for her place in society since she was a child

The celebrations when news broke that Rufina Peter had been elected governor of Papua New Guinea’s Central Province had a particular sweetness.

Not only had she won a bruising, exhausting and at times dangerous campaign, but she would be the first woman elected to her country’s parliament in a decade. She will be just the eighth female MP in the country’s history.

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