The number of ‘old Chinese’ in PNG is only about 1,000. The ‘new Chinese’ number around 20,000. It is estimated that 300 a week arrive in PNG without proper documentation. [Wikipedia – ‘Chinese people in PNG’]
There’s an interesting article I found entitled ‘Contemporary Chinese Community in Papua–New Guinea: Old Money versus New Migrants’ by James Chin, published in an academic journal last year.
Link - http://csds.anu.edu.au/volume_2_2008/117ChinCSDS2008Master.pdf
Chin makes these points:
1. The new Chinese were the biggest beneficiary of the sell-off by European business after the dramatic fall in the value of the kina in the late 1990s.
2. Among the new Chinese, the Malaysian Chinese appear to have some political ambitions.
3. The new Chinese are the biggest investors outside the oil and gas sectors. New foreign direct investment comes almost exclusively from the mainland Chinese and Malaysian Chinese communities.
4. Most mainland Chinese are investing in ‘reserved’ activities such as kai bars, bakeries, low end restaurants, and clothing stores that often bring them into conflict with local residents and the authorities. This conflict increases corruption, as many operators pay off police and immigration authorities when they come to check on illegal businesses.
5. The biggest number of illegal Chinese undoubtedly comes from mainland China.
6. Most of the Chinese groups (including the PNG Chinese) do not like the mainland Chinese and see them as crooks and ‘conmen’.
Chin also provides some interesting analysis:
1. PNGns associate Chinese with low-end businesses like kai bars and other direct economic competitors with nationals. This ill-will breeds suspicions, like the rumour that these kai bar owners sell nationals substandard food deemed unfit for human consumption.
2. There are growing calls for the government to act against mainland Chinese traders. The problem is that the bureaucracy (including the police) is so inefficient and corrupt that any actions it takes against these illegal operators are likely to be useless.
3. The increasing physical attacks against the mainland Chinese, in particular petty traders and kai bar operators, seems likely to increase.
4. The weight of mainland Chinese numbers and their important economic role mean they will soon dominate sections of the PNG’s economy.
5. It is almost certain that Chinese triads will establish a presence in PNG
6. Despite criticisms and complaints directed at the ‘new’ Chinese, Chin concludes that without them there would be no new investment in PNG. No one else has the necessary appetite for risk.