Saturday, December 05, 2009

China, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

 From John Fowke

The Quiet Revolution-Maybe the Aussies know what they are doing….but where does PNG stand in this scenario of the present and near future?

Part of a report entitled "The Quiet Revolution" published in 2005 by respected Australian journalist and commentator Tom Dusevic  speculates upon Australia's developing relationship with China.

 "The Chinese are renowned for taking the long view. Australians, generally more easy-going, look ahead about as far as the weekend. To gauge where the relationship between the two countries is heading, you need a time frame that sits somewhere between several days and a couple of centuries: let's say 20 years.

"The Chinese have been part of the Australian story since the early days of settlement. I expect China to be of ever growing importance to Australia," says Foreign Minister Alexander Downer -( n.b.-in 2005)- "In the next 15 or 20 years it has the potential to become our biggest trading partner, for sure.

"A highly placed but unnamed Australian observer is prepared to look even further ahead in Dusevic's report.."In 25 to 30 years, Australia will be to China much as Hong Kong once was," says the government official, who has been dealing with China for two decades.

"There will be 5 to 10 million tourists coming here from the mainland each year. Our universities will be dependent on Chinese students. Large amounts of prime real estate in the major cities will be owned by Chinese investors. I see very large parts of the farming and mining sectors in Chinese hands. How else can a country of 20 million people survive and prosper in this part of the world, with a rising China?"

Dusevic continued, inter alia;"....from the standpoint of 2005, that scenario seems overwhelming. Some might say it's unrealistic, a straight-line projection that ignores the risk of unforeseeable events or friction in the relationship. How easy is it, after all, to predict the behavior of an authoritarian regime that leads 1.3 billion people? But for governments and the forward scouts of free enterprise, such future-gazing is vital. To a medium-sized country like Australia, China's economic and political rise seems irresistible. The two countries have been been growing closer for some three decades, since Australia gave diplomatic recognition to the communist People's Republic in 1972. China's growth and reform have continued with barely a blip since 1978. But trade and the movement of people go back a lot further, as Fu Ying, China's Ambassador to Australia, notes-( n.b. -in 2005)- "The history, habits and nature of our peoples have laid the foundations for the extension of relations," she says. "We are able to understand each other."

…………".In the 1840s, thousands of Chinese indentured laborers and free settlers were drawn to a thriving British colony which was to become Australia. Today, 430,000 people, including merchant bankers, students, artists, gamblers and tourists, move between Australia and China each year. If Hong Kong is included, the figure almost doubles. China's rise is easing Australia's isolation, putting it close to one of the hubs of the world economy. But it is also taking a toll….."

If Australia, a prosperous, modern industrialized nation-state of something over 20 million people is to become a subserviant, even if politically independant, client of China, equivalent to today's Hong Kong, what will be PNG's fate in the next two to three decades?What plans does PNG's leadership have for this aspect of the nation's future? Have they any plan at all?


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