Problems on the Pacific island . . .
A year after Papua New Guinea (PNG) stepped onto the world stage by hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Forum (APEC), the country’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, resigned over the weekend. The island nation has seen a fair amount of unrest and scandal following APEC 2019, including international media reports of government corruption. PNG is the poorest APEC economy, with more than a third of the population living below the national poverty line.
In with the old . . .
In his resignation statement, O’Neill announced that Sir Julius Chan, who twice served as PNG’s prime minister, would take over once again. The opposition party greeted the news with some indifference, stating that with its 63 members in parliament, it already has a majority and would form its own government. In addition to the ongoing political instability, the country has been dealing with a severe polio outbreak, heated debates over Chinese investment, and other corruption cases.
East vs. West?
Developments harkening to the Cold War are currently playing out in PNG, with Chinese investment dollars flowing into Port Moresby’s infrastructure and real-estate projects, and Australia and the U.S. jointly redeveloping a naval base on Manus Island. The turbulent situation in PNG could have implications for Canada: With one year left until the decision on whether Canada will get one of the rotating seats on the UN Security Council, it has been trying to garner support from the Pacific Islands Forum, of which PNG is an important member. What plays out in Port Moresby could have strong ramifications for Canada’s own security agenda.