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The high moral price our regional neighbours are paying for Belt and Road

By Jeffrey Wall - posted Monday, 2 August 2021

The economic and fiscal impacts of our regional neighbours committing to loans from China under the Belt and Road initiative have been written about here and commented on widely.

Despite the economic downturn, and fiscal problems, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic the pace of Belt and Road and other PRC loan funding activities seem not have diminished, and most certainly not in Papua New Guinea.

Because Belt and Road and other loan funding from PRC banks and tied to work being undertaken solely by PRC construction companies totally lack transparency it is difficult to assess accurately just how much our regional neighbours exactly owe. The terms of the multiple loans, guaranteed by national governments, are largely unknown.


But what is increasingly "known" is the diplomatic impact of China's effective program to link funding for infrastructure, communications and other services, to support for China at international an d regional forums.

In many ways this "impact" ought to be of far more immediate concern to the Australian Government and the Australian community.

The latest evidence of just how effective China has been in rounding up our regional neighbours to support it, often in opposition to the stance of Australia and New Zealand, as well as the United States and Japan, has emerged from the latest "interactive dialogue" emerging from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

One of the issues discussed concerned China's oppression of any form of dissent, and free speech, in Hong Kong. It was alleged that China was continuing to violate its international legal obligations as a result of the use of national security laws to curtail freedom of expression and legitimate political debate.

One would have thought it would be an "open and shut" case!

But no fewer than 68 nations sided with China to reject the resolution.


They included the usual suspects – such as Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Syria. All paragons of virtue – not!

This year they were joined by Tonga, Solomon Islands, Kiribati  and Papua New Guinea!

So these five essentially democratic and Christian nations in our region voted contrary to their own stated national constitutions and democratic processes to support the oppression of the people of Hong Kong!

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About the Author

Jeffrey Wall CSM CBE is a Brisbane Political Consultant and has served as Advisor to the PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu Prime Minister 1988-1992 and Speaker 1994-1997.

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