By PONOWI SIWI REMO
WHEN PEOPLE NEED TO BORROW OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY FAST, THEY ALWAYS PAY THE PRICE:
They get less money at more cost and this is what Peter O'Neill is doing right now. He's not mortgaging PNG's wealth, he will be destroying it.
China is a massive sea of humanity, 1.35 billion out of the total world population of 7.4 billion. Much of China's land is desert. There is a massive concentration of population along the coasts and fertile river valleys. As the population has continued to grow, land has become more short, and people struggle just to grow enough food to eat. The massive rural impoverishment has caused a spillover into urban areas. People are packed like tinned mackerel in many of the cities. They have virtually no living space and certainly will never own any land. They will never own their accommodation in most cases, unless it is a tiny little apartment where an entire family is packed. Think of how you would feel if you were forced to live under such conditions and your whole life's prospects were to continue living like a tinned fish until you die.
This situation is what creates the massive spillover effect these days of Chinese onto the rest of the world. Chinese desperately need massive amounts of natural resources as well. It has a terrible track record for environmental protection. The Chinese government, through its many resource extraction business arms, rubbish the land into what can only be called deserts. The impact can be seen everywhere, the effects of the land is intense, and one can only imagine the level of destruction that will occur when the "Chinese way" of mining, logging, doing large scale agriculture and the like is transferred over to Papua New Guinea with its steep slopes, high rainfall, and unstable, earthquake, volcano and rain punished ground. Chinese concern for workers safety is close to nonexistent in mining operations. Whenever you see people all around you like ants gathered around dropped food, it is hard to treasure an individual life compared to when you live in a low population density
Against this backdrop, Peter O'Neill is throwing the doors of PNG wide open to China. Considering that we always criticise ourselves that we are traditionally corrupt, there was very little corruption in PNG until Paias Wingti opened PNG's doors in his "Look North" policy, especially to Asian loggers, to bring in and teach people in government the concept of bribery. That was a small invasion. What will the Peter O'Neill inspired invasion bring? Remember that we are a small population very rich in resources and China is an immense population very hungry for resources. Don't expect only the Chinese government business arms to come. Expect an invasion of small scale businessmen whose prospects in life in China would be perpetual struggle just to earn toea. Arriving in PNG, the tucker shops are, in their eyes, their pathway to glory.
Peter O'Neill is selling PNG to China. Like Michael Somare, when he brought in the Chinese Ramu Nickel mining operation to Madang Province told the Chinese that "this land is yours now", Peter O'Neill will take things one step further. The trade agreements that Peter O'Neill is forging are all in China's favour because PNG as the negotiator shows itself easily to be the most desperate of the 2 negotiating parties. Expect the Sepik River to be destroyed by the Chinese Freida River Copper mine and trashed even worse than the Fly River was by Ok Tedi.
Expect illegal Chinese miners and other workers to come fill all the better paid jobs of these resource extraction operations. Those of you who may have worked at Panguna, Ok Tedi, or even the Chevron company camps and enjoyed the corporate benefits, none of that is around anymore and it will never come back under Chinese ownership of our resources. Only ExxonMobil still treats its project site workers well but ExxonMobil employs very few nationals because overall it runs the entire LNG operation with very few directly hired staff.
Expect treatment of customary landowners to grow far worse under the Chinese invasion.
Expect any free trade agreement to benefit PNG hardly at all. Is the problem with agricultural products right now that we can't sell what we're producing. Absolutely not. The problem is that we're not interested in producing. The Chinese will happily solve that problem for us by taking over large amounts of land in massive land grabs. Under these 99 year leases, customary landowners will lose all rights to their land. The Chinese will take over, bring agricultural mechanisation, possibly bring a heap of Chinese farmers to run the show, and the customary landowners will be left with little more than a pitiful yearly lease payment. Split amongst all clan or tribe members, each person will get close to nothing in return for losing all the rights to their land. That is what Peter O'Neill is now opening the doors to.
We will become an economic colony of China, our land, sea, and their resources open to their careless exploitation. Remember, the Chinese companies are doing all this for China, not for PNG. Any 'development' that PNG gets is an accident.
Free trade agreements with China also open the gates to massive dumping of Chinese rubbish products that Chinese don't want and the developed world turns their noses at. Forget about any homegrown PNG industrialisation trying to survive, much less compete against the massive wave of anything sold cheaper than what PNG can produce it for.
Those who are shaking their heads and saying that we are being too pessimistic about the end results of the Chinese invasion being invited by Peter O'Neill might do well to read the bad effects of the Chinese invasion in many African countries.
Peter O'Neill has put up a big for sale sign on top of PNG and ready to discount the price as necessary to get what little money he can from the Chinese. What is his motivation? Simply to stay in power. In the end, Peter O'Neill lives quite comfortably, thank you. If things get really bad, he can always move to one of his overseas properties and still live quite well, thank you.