PNG’s post-APEC technology dream leaves rural sector far behind

By Pauline Mago-King

It has only been two weeks since the conclusion of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, yet much has transpired – to the dismay of host country Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea’s trajectory to this monumental event has been one involving great strides from the moment it secured the bid to host APEC in 2013.

In preparation for the summit, the PNG government stretched its expenditure to clean up the nation’s capital of Port Moresby – a move to improve international perceptions that will eventually translate into investment opportunities.

READ MORE: PNG – like no summit on earth

One can see this “clean-up” in Port Moresby via newly sealed roads, the 145 million kina (NZ$62 million) upgrade of Jackson’s International Airport, and the extravagant APEC Haus and Convention Centre.

Not to mention the controversial boulevard consisting of a six-lane road, outside the National Parliament.

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Prior to the 21 member states’ two-day meeting, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill described the event as one that would place PNG on the world map by boosting tourism and lucrative resource project agreements.

These advantages could lead to more employment, especially in an economy where only 15 percent of the population are employed in the formal sector.

Additionally, there is an opportunity to tackle skills shortages within PNG.

Yet for all the economic advantages that await PNG, a myriad of issues continue to beset the country and this has been magnified through APEC.

Questionable governance
The cost of rehabilitating PNG’s waning image has ultimately placed the people’s needs on the backburner, even after Australia’s donation of $100 million and China giving $35 million.

Currently, polio has re-emerged with three new cases having been reported just last week, now bringing the total to 25 and one death so far.

Apart from polio, tuberculosis continues to be a formidable challenge for PNG’s health system.

This is the bitter reality for most Papua New Guineans who lack access to basic health services.

While Port Moresby has new roads, much of the rural areas in PNG remain disconnected with services nowhere to be found.

Granted, if there are aid posts and clinics, it is likely that medicine is unavailable, as exemplified by prominent journalist Scott Waide.

Media freedom barriers
Apart from exacerbating health issues, PNG’s media freedom faces barriers which have been amplified throughout the APEC summit coverage.

Case in point: PNG journalists were not allowed to cover Chinese President Xi Jinping’s dinner with colleagues from eight Pacific nations.

The suspension-turned-reinstatement of Scott Waide amid his airing of a report on the government’s spending, particularly about the controversial 40 Maseratis.

His reinstatement, however, is a compelling testament to many Papua New Guineans’ frustration with the state of governance, particularly at the grassroots level.

A Maserati luxury sedan as portrayed in the controversial news item shown in EMTV. Image: EMTV screenshot

While Port Moresby came to a standstill for the 2018 APEC Summit, villages throughout PNG were occupied with their own routines.

Life is not as simple as it used to be and this rings true for villages like Efogi.

Nestled on the slopes of the Owen Stanley Ranges, Efogi receives trekking tourists embarking on the Kokoda Trail.

In all its years of participating in the “Kokoda experience”, Efogi seems untouched from the hustle and bustle in Port Moresby.

Rural realities
Papua New Guinean writer Rashmii Bell, who also has a background in psychology and criminology, recently trekked along the Kokoda where she was able to observe the state of development in rural areas such as Efogi.

“What’s being developed in Moresby is not translating to the rural population – there is a huge difference. We want to wait and see what happens after [APEC], but we have valid reason to pre-empt based on the development that has happened in the past 18 months where Moresby has transformed whereas the rest of PNG has not.”

Although acting as a campsite for trekkers, Efogi had no access to electricity despite being home to the main airstrip for the Kokoda Track.

The only semblance of electricity is a newly donated generator that is rarely used due to the difficulty in purchasing and transporting fuel.

Aside from that, the health centre still relies on the donation of medical supplies.

With the summit’s closure, Rashmii’s interaction with communities like Efogi point out the problematic nature of the PNG government’s sound bites on a stronger economy.

This is where little attention has concentrated on empowering the majority of Papua New Guineans in informal sectors like trek tourism.

The Kokoda Track … trekking tourism is a neglected sector with villagers supporting the industry living an exploited existence. Image: kokodatrack.net

‘Trekking carriers’
For example, most men from villages like Efogi and others along the trail turn to “trekking carriers” as a form of employment but are often exploited in terms of their safety and wellbeing.

“Your life is in your carrier’s hand – that is how the tourism operation is running at the moment. Because we are putting that pressure on the carriers, you can see by their demeanour that they are very stoic.

“For them, it is a huge ask to be putting your life in someone’s hands. And as much as they say ‘that is our job’, at the end of the day we want to have a tourism industry where we are promoting ethical tourism,” said Rashmii.

As for women, they are excluded from gaining the financial rewards that this informal economy has to offer, which reiterates the resounding gender inequity in communities around PNG.

While PNG’s participation in APEC hopes to garner “digital breakthroughs”, it is debatable as to how rural communities can be included when technological infrastructure is absent, literacy is low and policies that protect and empower the people are void.

For communities like Efogi, life remains the same without any inkling of “APEC”.

APEC reservations
Although the carriers who trekked with Rashmii did not utter one word on APEC, the same cannot be said for those in Port Moresby.

When the 21 APEC member countries completed their intergovernmental talks, people like Cathy Smith felt anxious about what would transpire.

She described the lead up to the event as one of confusion.

The 28-year-old said she could not see any positive changes taking place anytime soon.

Life is already hard as it is, even with her cleaning job of five years where she earns only K3.50 (NZ$1.50) an hour – a rate that barely supports a normal standard of living in PNG.

“For my community, we will just listen and follow what they say… I’m seeing all the changes in the city but my own village has no services.”

Although the opportunities for development remain to be seen, Papua New Guineans like Cathy will go through the usual struggle to make a living in an economy that is already waning.

High living conditions, health budget cuts and the re-emergence of diseases such as polio and leprosy are just some of the many challenges being faced.

Hopefully, the PNG government will tackle these and other prevalent issues, particularly with the aim of development for its people.

Perhaps a good reference point to take from the APEC summit is human resource development, as stated by Rashmii Bell.

“For development to take place, you need that interaction. My understanding is that APEC is technology-driven and I did not even have reception along the Kokoda trail until we climbed up to the highest point… Technology will hopefully improve the economy but only for those who have access to it.”

Pauline Mago-King is a masters student based at Auckland University of Technology and is researching gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea. She compiled this report for the Pacific Media Centre.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pioneering NZ Pacific research initiative to make ‘reset’ change

Keynote speakers Associate Professor Kabini Sanga from Victoria University and Dr Alisi Holani (right), deputy CEO of the Ministry of Commerce, Consumer, Trade, Innovation and Labour (MCCTIL) in Tonga. They spoke about a “rich gap” and other issues affecting Pacific media reportage. Image: Tom Blessen/PMC

By Sri Krishnamurthi

The NZ Institute for Pacific Research will cease to exist in its current form, Emeritus Professor Richard Bedford said in a bombshell announcement to the Oceans and Islands conference today.

Rumours of NZIPR’s demise were doing the rounds after a review of the organisation earlier this year by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

“I do want to finish with expressing the gratitude that the institute has for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the investment they have put in to the establishment of a NZ Institute for Pacific Research,” said the acting director in his conference closing address.

READ MORE: NZ think-tank launched to advance Pacific research

“We are in a rather ambiguous situation at the moment and quite a lot of speakers were informed of this in advance. I wrote to alert them to the fact we were in yet another ‘Pacific reset’ around the institute.

“Pacific reset are the words that the ministry has used for the rethinking of aspects of our policy in the Pacific,” said Professor Bedford.

He admitted that he had yet to see the review report which is said to be confidential to the institute’s board. They knew the recommendations that the decision to cease the current arrangement was based on.

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“Just for those of you who might be bewildered by this, it’s not about getting rid of the NZ Institute of Pacific Research,” he said.

Review of investment
“Basically, what the ministry has done is have a review of what its investment has achieved.
“I think they’ve been impressed with a number of things that have happened. They have been impressed with some of the research that has been done,” he said.

“But the model and the way it’s worked has not given them the return on investment with regard to research that informs policy.

“I can sympathise a little bit with MFAT here because academic research doesn’t always and should never always fit perfectly some policy objective or goal,” he said in attempting to cushion the blow.

“The drivers of academic research are different from policy orientated research,” he said highlighting the difference in what the ministry had expected from NZIPR.

“This applied especially to discovery-led research, and a great deal of research we’ve heard about in this conference is discovery-led research.

“It’s about understanding and learning ways of doing things, testing models, testing ideas. It’s not about necessarily just producing something to enable a solution. The research may contribute to a solution long-term but that isn’t what drives it initially.”

MFAT-owned brand
He made it clear that the brand name was owned by MFAT and not the three universities (Auckland, Otago and Auckland University of Technology) that have been involved in the initial conglomerate that formed the NZIPR.

It was envisioned initially that long-term the NZIPR would become something like Australia’s think tank Lowy Institute.

When NZIPR was formed, MFAT invested $5 million for a set number of years, but the arrangement was that the NZIPR would look to possible external sources of funding to top up MFAT’s investment but that never eventuated.

“The label NZ Institute for Pacific Research belongs to MFAT, it’s not a label that belongs to the consortium of universities that has worked with MFAT to deliver on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that led to the formation of the current NZ Institute for Pacific Research,” he clarified.

“The NZ Institute for Pacific will continue to exist, operating under a different but as yet unspecified model.

“Whatever actually happens, in my view they’d be mad if they got rid of the opportunity that we’ve had to have this kind of conference,” he said voicing his opinion.

He said the support from MFAT needed to be acknowledged and he aimed to work with the ministry constructively to try and ensure that all the many good things that have emanated from their investment continue in whatever form they chose to implement the institute in the future.

Transition period
“That’s just to clarify that it won’t be the same next year, the current arrangement finishes on March 14,” Professor Bedford said.

“Between now and March 14 Evelyn [Dr Evelyn Marsters – research programme manager] and I, along with others in the University of Auckland, AUT and the University of Otago which are partners in the consortium, will work with MFAT to ensure that the transition from the first generation, the Fresh Off the Boat version of NZIPR moves along to the next generation version under MFAT control.”

Day two of the conference, apart from this sensational announcement, featured keynote speakers Associate Professor Kabini Sanga from Victoria University (Wellington), who spoke about “Pacific research frontiering” and Dr Alisi Holani, Deputy CEO of the Ministry of Commerce, Consumer, Trade, Innovation and Labour (MCCTIL) in Tonga, who spoke about “Bridging the policy-research gap in the Pacific – Insights from labour mobility negotiations in PACER Plus”.

The third keynote speaker, Dr Tapugao Falefou Permanent Secretary Government of Tuvalu, could not attend the conference due to not having his visa processed in time, something which was lamented by Professor Bedford.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific’s brightest minds gather for Oceans and Islands research summit

By Blessen Tom

In a bold and innovative move for researchers, the two-day inaugural Oceans and Islands conference today brought together the brightest minds of the Pacific to demonstrate what they do.

Oceans and Islands – a showcase for the region hosted by the NZ Institute for Pacific Research (NZIPR) – was opened by the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Carmel Sepuloni, this morning.

“I really do have the privilege of being able to witness the great contribution that Pacific leaders, academics and communities make to Aotearoa and globally,” the minister said.

READ MORE: Pacific aid mapping tool aimed at improving transparency in region

Pacific Peoples Minister Carmel Sepuloni … “critical that Pacific people are meaningfully included in thought leadership and decision making”. Images: Blessen Tom/PMC

She acknowledged the excellence of Pacific research in New Zealand and welcomed the establishment of research agencies such as Moana Research and commended the leadership of Dr Teuila Percival, Jcinta Fa’alili-Fidow and Dudley Gentles.

The minister also shared some of the research initiatives that she is directly involved with such as the extended funding to the growing up in New Zealand study and Treasury’s Pasifika Economic Report.

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“It is critical that Pacific people are meaningfully included in thought leadership and decision making. We must be the authors of our own solutions, and conferences like this support us towards that end,” she added.

Toeolesulusulu Associate Professor Damon Salesa … struggles faced by Pacific researchers. Image: David Robie/PMC

Many struggles
Toeolesulusulu Associate Professor Damon Salesa, who was recently appointed pro vice-chancellor (Pacific) of the University of Auckland, said: “Pacific research and Pacific knowledge matters.”

“It’s not simply research about the Pacific, by the Pacific that makes it Pacific research. It’s much more than that…and it has faced many struggles,” he added.

He talked about the struggles that researchers faced, such as not being properly resourced, the lack of opportunities to succeed, and the lack of proper recognition.

“These are the struggles NZIPR embarked on,” he said in a tribute to the institute that he was the founding director of. The achievements of NZIPR were:

• Creating a formal research programme – “five research programmes will be signed off completed or published by the end of this year.”

• Disseminating research through both online and offline platforms, and establishing a research repository to make visible the different kinds of knowledge.

• Building research capability and the research recognition of a diverse range of researchers that includes 12 scholarships and sponsorship for individual researchers and research projects.

He also remarked that NZIPR had “achieved so much so quickly”.

Indigenous principles
Dr David Welchman Gegeo led the third keynote session when he gave full recognition to indigenous ethical principles that guide the social construction of knowledge in Pacific island communities.

“Why do we keep doing research on Pacific communities?” and “Are we alone?” asked David Gegeo.

“Pacific Island’s epistemic communities are not alone in the quest for the indigenisation or oceanisation of research and knowledge construction in the Pacific,” he said.

“I think we have a better chance of answering some of our lingering questions in research when we work together as this team.”

He advocated the working together of university epistemic community, metro-centrist epistemic community and Pacific village epistemic community for research and construction of pacific knowledge.

Dr Gegeo holds a research position in the Office of Research and Postgraduate Studies at the Solomon Islands National University.

Professor Kapua’ala Sproat … proactive indigenous responses to “pernicious impacts of global warming”. Image: Blessen Tom/PMC

Dr Kapua’ala Sproat is a professor of law at the University of Hawai’i’s Richardson School of Law and the director of Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawai’ian Law.

Her keynote explored indigenous people’s proactive responses to the pernicious impacts of global warming.

‘Sense of culture’
“I’m incredibly grateful that I grew up with a strong sense of self and culture because I think that really has rooted both myself and but also my work,” she said.

Professor Sprout examined Native Hawai’ians’ potential deployment of local laws that embody restorative justice principles to fashion meaningful remedies for the environmental and cultural damage as a result of the global climate crisis.

“Our identity as indigenous people is inextricably tied to these islands and our natural and cultural resources” said Professor Sprout and “Global Warming threatens our island home and our identity as a people”.

The final keynote session of the day was addressed by Leina Tucker-Masters, Eliza Puna and by Dr Jamaima Tiataia- Seath.

Their presentation canvassed the journeys of three Pacific women researchers throughout their academic careers.

“Engaging in research as an undergraduate student helped me connect with my Pacific culture while at university,” said Leina Tucker-Masters, a medical student at the University of Auckland.

Research methodologies
Tucker-Masters talked about her experience with Pacific research methodologies and how they influenced literature.

“I learned about Pacific health initiatives that use Pacific ways of thinking to heal Pacific people”.

“Postgraduate research gives you an opportunity to carry out very ethnic specific research and it allows for in depth engagement and helps to bridge academia and our communities,” said Eliza Puna, a doctoral candidate in Pacific Studies at Auckland University.

Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath is currently co-head of school and head of Pacific studies, Te Wananga o Waipapa, School of Māori and Pacific Studies, University of Auckland.

She talked about her experience as one of six panelists on the government’s Mental Health and Addiction Enquiry.

The Oceans and Islands conference will conclude tomorrow evening.

Sri Krishnamurthi and Blessen Tom of the Pacific Media Centre are working as part of a PMC partnership with the NZ Institute for Pacific Research.

NZIPR research manager Dr Evelyn Marsters and one of the keynote speakers, Professor David Gegeo of the Solomon Islands, at the Oceans and Islands conference in Auckland today. Image: David Robie/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

PM blames Bougainville missing budget on ‘administrative error’

The Bougainville flag … a critical year for the referendum on independence next year. Image: Bougainville News

By RNZ Pacific

The Bougainville President, John Momis, says he has been assured by Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, that the absence of a vital grant from the 2019 Budget was an “administrative error”.

Both leaders met last week in Port Moresby

PNG’s budget, announced last week, makes no mention of the Restoration and Development Grant which is constitutionally guaranteed under the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

READ MORE: PNG budget reports lack transparency, says economist

Momis said Bougainville relied on this grant for essential projects and a failure by the national government to pay it would reflect badly on both Port Moresby and Bougainville.

The budget did feature a cut to recurrent funding for the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

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Next year, 2019, will be a critical year with a referendum on Bougainville’s long term political future scheduled to take place in June, Momis said.

The PNG and Bougainville governments must ensure that together they provide the funding and support needed to allow the vote to take place and for the important work of peace building to continue, he said.

O’Neill has promised to rectify the issues.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Chinese officials kick out EMTV, foreign media from APEC events – allow Beijing state media

Some critics say that China’s latest behaviour toward foreign journalists casts doubt over its vow to treat neighbours with “respect”. Image: Natalie Whiting/ABC News/My Land, My Country

By Scott Waide

Papua New Guinea’s freedoms of speech, expression and access to information were challenged yesterday when Chinese officials barred both local and non-Chinese media from attending meetings at three Asia-Pacific Economy Cooperation (APEC) venues.

It began in Parliament when Chinese President Xi Jinping was giving an address after a guard of honour. 

EMTV journalist Theckla Gunga, who was assigned to cover the Chinese President’s visit, reported that just after 11am, Chinese officials accompanying their president ordered the microphones to be removed from the speaker where they had been placed to record the speeches.

READ MORE Chinese President Xi’s early PNG arrival upstages APEC rivals

“Chinese officials who are organising the official opening of the Chinese-funded six lane road have refused to give audio feeds to media personnel,” she said in a WhatsApp message.

“Microphones belonging to both local and international media have been removed,” said Gunga.

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The officials, however, allowed Chinese state-owned broadcaster CCTV to record President’s Xi speech.

Gunga and other journalists spent about 10 minutes arguing with the Chinese officials but were still refused.

‘No media, no media’
One hour later, EMTV Online reporter Merylyn Diau-Katam faced another group of Chinese officials at the gate of a Chinese government-funded school.

“Before the President arrived a bus full of Chinese media personnel were driven into the gate on a bus,” she said.

“And when we wanted to go in, we were told our names were not on the list even though we had APEC accreditation passes,” Diau-Katam.

“No media. No media, a Chinese official said,” she said.

Diau-Katam was not the only one refused entry. In the group was a photographer from Japanese public broadcaster, NHK and other media. A PNG government official also spent several minutes arguing with the Chinese security to let him in.

At 5pm yesterday, Chinese officials again booted out local and international media from a meeting between the Chinese President and Pacific Island country leaders.

EMTV anchor and senior journalist, Meriba Tulo, was among others told to “get out” of the meeting while Chinese media were allowed into the room.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) was also told to leave. They spoke to Post-Courier’s senior journalist, Gorethy Kenneth. She said Chinese officials from Beijing were initially angry with the presence of international media.

“I said: ‘We are here to cover the meeting, our names have been submitted.’ And they said: ‘No, all of you get out,’” Kenneth said.

Scott Waide’s blog columns are frequently published by Asia Pacific Report with permission. He is also EMTV deputy news editor based in Lae.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Scott Waide: How China is several moves ahead in Port Moresby

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Prime Minister of PNG Peter O’Neill shaking hands. Image: Solomon Kantha/My Land My Country

COMMENTARY: By Scott Waide

In November every year, the Papua New Guinean National budget usually takes centre stage. But not this year.

This week, the 2019 budget came two days before the start of the biggest meetings of APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation).  People were interested in it for a day, then it faded into the background.

Then BOOM… Enter China-US geopolitics…

On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping, the most influential world leader in the Asia-Pacific arrived in Port Moresby with the largest delegation of officials.

They came on two large planes and the festivities for his delegation demonstrated just how important China’s money is to the Papua New Guinea ( government.

World politics is being played out on PNG soil. It already is, by the way.

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From the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Singapore, US Vice President, Mike Pence indicated he would be revealing how “dangerous” the Chinese One Belt One Road Initiative is to the rest of the world including the Pacific.

Infrastructure projects
This announcement comes on the back of US$60 billion funding (about NZ$87 billion) aimed at the Asia-Pacific region. Also note that China has allocated the same amount to African countries for various projects including infrastructure.

Australia has announced its own funding initiatives for the Pacific of 7 billion Kina (NZ$3 billion).

In the foreign ministers’ meeting, the US-China tension is already being felt as the US and China tussle over free trade and other issues.

On the ground in Port Moresby, there is a strong US and Australian military presence.

From China, a strong trade presence and message about building relationships. From the outset, China appears to have all its moves planned out and is ticking off each item on its list of things to do.

At least for the government, the attention from world leaders is important. Maybe APEC is an opportunity.  Maybe it is a double edged sword – with opportunity on the one side and debt on the other as has been the case in other countries like Sri Lanka.

What stands out is China’s willingness to engage. President Xi is here for four days. America’s Trump and Russia’s Putin both sent their number twos.

As US Vice-President Pence, tweeted and jetted into Cairns, President Jinping met with Pacific Island Forum leaders and representatives in Port Moresby in the afternoon.

Scott Waide’s blog columns are frequently published by Asia Pacific Report with permission. He is also EMTV deputy news editor based in Lae.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Chinese President Xi’s early PNG arrival upstages APEC rivals

News headlines with the arrival of the Chinese president in Papua New Guinea for APEC. Video: EMTV News

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Port Moresby last night to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit and is poised to steal a march on rival world leaders.

With the US and Russian Presidents skipping the event, President Xi is in a strategic position to strengthen ties with both the host nation and other attendees.

The National reports that President Xi said PNG was “truly a land of promise,” endowed with abundant natural resources.

READ MORE: ‘Like nothing on earth’ – APEC’s cruise ship summit

“In recent years, thanks to the leadership of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, the great work of the government, and the industrious and enterprising people of the country, PNG has thrived in national development, and its society has taken on a new look,” said President Xi.

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Mutual trust
This is the first state visit of President Xi where he reiterated his goal to fortify “mutual trust” and to take bilateral ties to next level.

“I look forward to working with your leaders to cement mutual trust, expand practical cooperation, and increase people-to-people exchanges in order to take our bilateral ties to a new level,” said President Xi.

EMTV Online reports that President Xi officiate at the opening  of a new school today for PNG students, Butuka Academy.

“Only one of China’s many gifts to PNG,” he said.

President Xi said the rapid growth of the China-PNG relations was “an epitome of China’s overall relations with Pacific Islands countries”.

“The Chinese often say: ‘Distance cannot separate true friends who remain close even when thousands of miles apart.’ The vast Pacific Ocean is indeed a bond between China and Pacific Islands countries,” said President Xi.

President Xi said China would stand firm with Pacific Islands countries and all other developing countries.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at Port Moresby’s Jacksons International Airport last night for a state visit and the APEC summit. Image: Loop PNG

Brighter future
“The relations between China and Pacific Islands countries are now better than ever and face important opportunities of development,” he said.

“China will work with Pacific Islands countries to brave the wind and waves and set sail for a brighter future of our relations.”

The Post-Courier reports that early this year, President Xi met with Prime Minister O’Neill in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing as part of a trip that saw the Pacific nation signing on to the “One Belt One Road” initiative.

This was an initiative seen by the US as a threat, and it had injected US$113 million in Asian investment.

Prime Minister O’Neill, in this meeting with President Xi, said he wanted more cooperation on economy, trade, investment, agriculture, tourism and infrastructure.

After the APEC summit in PNG, President Xi is set to visit Brunei and the Philippines where he will engage in an in-depth conversation with the two head of the state strengthening bilateral ties.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Chinese president bound for PNG as controversy mounts over APEC 2018

APEC officials prepare to welcome foreign delegates from 23 countries. Image: Apec.org

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Chinese President Xi Jinping left Beijing today for state visits to Papua New Guinea, Brunei and the Philippines – and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit in Port Moresby.

During Xi’s stay in Papua New Guinea, he will also meet with leaders from the Pacific  countries that have established diplomatic ties with China amid growing political rivalries over the region, reports Xinhua news agency.

Xi was invited to pay the visits by Governor-General of Papua New Guinea Bob Dadae and APEC host Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

He is arriving amid growing controvesy over the extravagant spending for APEC and allegations of corruption in a nation troubled by deep crises over education and health.

More than 200 Chinese media personals are already making tracks to be in PNG for the state Visit and the APEC summit.

Meanwhile, opposition Kavieng MP Ian Ling-Stuckey has severely criticised PNG’s 2019 Budget.

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He said too much money had been spent on a Port Moresby-centred APEC, but now was the time to deliver the policies that could tap into all of the potential benefits of APEC and distribute them throughout the country.

The cost of the two-day APEC for PNG is reportedly more than 200 million kina (about NZ$90 million).

‘Opportunity squandered’
“This opportunity has been squandered. Instead, the 2019 Budget has dished up anti-APEC policies such as new taxes on trade and protectionist language,” Ling-Stuckey said.

“We have demonstrated that we are not being honest in our budget policy with misleading facts and hidden figures.

“This is a big-spending and fiscally irresponsible budget that abandons our new fiscal anchors. This is a disappointing day for the children of PNG, and the O’Neill/Abel government should be ashamed.

“The alternative government is a supporter of APEC. However, we have not been supportive of the expensive way that it has been implemented with numerous questions about contracts that should be referred to auditors.

“Unfortunately, items such as the Maseratis and Bentleys have unnecessarily damaged our international reputation.

As PNG prepared for its first APEC summit, it also expected to have 10,000 delegates to arrive for this meeting, reports EMTV News.

More then 1000 APEC officers are deployed in various parts of the city to ensure the safety of the visitors.

More than 100 foreign nationals arrived on Monday and the number was expected to increase rapidly over the next few days.

APEC Haus … Port Moresby’s custom-designed convention centre especially built for the Asia-Pacific economic leaders’ summit. Image: PNG Govt

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Refugee, migrant culinary delights boost new diversity cookbook

Students who volunteered for the AUT migrant cookbook include Leilani Sitagata (from left), Amina Mohamed and Tiana Lambert, who spoke of their experience last night. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

By Rahul Bhattarai

Students and staff gathered in Auckland last night to launch a cookbook with a difference celebrating culinary delights from refugee or immigrant families – and to taste some of the special 15 recipes.

The recipes in Tastes of Home, published by Auckland University of Technology to support an educational scholarship for refugees, were an instant success.

Chapters and the recipes have been provided by volunteer student contributors drawing on their family culinary secrets.

READ MORE: Diversity at Auckland University of Technology

“These recipes have been tested and standardised by the culinary art students for the cook book,” says Lian-Hong Brebner, a diversity manager at AUT and one of the co-editors with Professor Alison McIntosh.

“This is more then a cookbook, it’s about celebration of AUT’s diversity that refugee and migrant background students bring to us, and their their tradition of hospitality,” says Brebner.

Foods made from the recipe of the cookbook out on display for customers to taste. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

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Encouraging diversity
AUT as a university encourages diversity and was also the first university in New Zealand to appoint a professor of diversity – Professor Edwina Pio.

“We are also proud to be the first and only New Zealand university to appoint a professor of diversity,” says Dr Andrew Codling, who is the head of the vice-chancellors office.

“We are proud that our students and staff are from over 100 nationalities on our campuses, and in fact over 52 percent of our staff were born overseas – and I am one of them,” says Dr Codling.

Seven percent of the staff are from the Pacific, 6 percent are Maori and 64 percent of the professional staff are female.

AUT scholarship program
Proceeds from the book sales will go towards a scholarship programme for future refugee students.

Part of a chapter in the cookbook that was contributed by AUT student journalist Leilani Sitagata. Image Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

About 50 volunteers from diverse backgrounds worked around the clock to make the book possible.

“I volunteered to be part of the project because I loved that the proceeds would be going towards a scholarship for refugees,” says Leilani Sitagata, who is a final year AUT student journalist.

“As I’m a journalism major, I knew how to write, and I love my food – so I thought why not combine the two and help write a cookbook.”

Homemade cuisines from around the world featured in the book include Afgan, Iranian, Iraqi, Kurdish, Maori and Samoan and many other dishes.

On launch day, 38 copies were sold with a further 100 copies already being pre-ordered online.

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media