Personally, I don't want Papua New Guinea to create enemies because of our friends. We are too small to beat our chest and pick sides. The thing Papua New Guinea needs most is trade, not aid and certainly not enemies. - Allan Bird.
Should Papua New Guinea make China our enemy?
Statement by Hon Allan Bird, East Sepik Governor | Marape-Basil Government Fans | Port Moresby, 3rd of February 2022.
China uses every international event including Sport to promote Trade and Investment. China intends to use its influence to increase wealth for her people. They are promoting the Chinese interest.
China's interest is making many other countries nervous. Including our long time friends, the US and Australia. So while certain countries choose to boycott China's invitations, should we also ignore China? Should we make China our enemy? Is that wise?
Australia and the US despite their public disagreements with China have very large trading relationships with China. China is the largest economy in the world or very close to it. So the world cannot really ignore China for long, at some point everyone has to work with China regardless of your personal dislike for China and her global aspirations.
So should Papua New Guinea also act like the big boy and ignore China? Is it in our national interest to ignore China and not work with them? China is already our largest trading partner. We are neighbors with Asia. The largest market in the world is in Asia.
Whilst we favor our friends, should we then make China our enemy because of our friends? Our trade with the US is very small, almost nothing.
The US has a population of 300 million while China has 1,200 million people. Australia has about 30 million people. So in terms of markets, China will definitely be able to take our products if we can sell them.
Personally, I don't want Papua New Guinea to create enemies because of our friends. We are too small to beat our chest and pick sides. The thing Papua New Guinea needs most is trade, not aid and certainly not enemies.
So while we are grateful for the aid, we must pursue trade because in trade lies the path to economic expansion, job creation and prosperity. Aid never led to any country being developed. Only trade can do that.
We need to trade with China and we need to do that on our terms, in our national interest. We are not going to achieve that outcome by hiding in our capital in Port Moresby. We can only do so by taking our place as a sovereign nation and working with China on equal terms.
Which country takes most of our timber, gas, fish and other produce? Which country has the potential to take our Agriculture produce? If China is high on that list, then we can't bury our head in the sand, we have to act like adults, go sit on the table and deal with them.
We can't sell our products to China through 3rd party countries. We must do so on our terms. Many countries are doing exactly that, why are we not doing that?
Prime Minister James Marape is doing exactly what past Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea did and future Prime Ministers will do. It's not about betraying our friends: Australia and the US have issues with China. I respectfully submit that while they are our friends, their fight with China is not our fight.
We need our economy to grow so that our young people can have opportunities and we must make every effort to grow our economy. We can't live on Aid forever so this is the path we must take.
Our forefathers gained political independence, we must pursue economic independence. This goal will not be achieved by making new enemies.