Photo retrieved from scroll.in
Excerpt from scroll.in
…Papua New Guinea will nonetheless remain committed to its “friends to all, enemies to none” foreign policy approach. It will continue to leverage its growing array of relationships for its economic development.
In recent years, Papua New Guinea’s leaders have joined others from the Pacific in expressing impatience with the strategic rivalry between their external partners and alarm at signs of greater militarisation in the region. India’s refusal to align itself firmly with one side or another in the geostrategic contest will be seen by many in the region as a model.
While Chinese investment and development support for Papua New Guinea actually remains very limited compared to that of Australia, it looms large as a trading partner. Chinese state-owned enterprises are now heavily engaged in Papua New Guinea, particularly its construction sector.
It is also clear that Australia’s partners have come to understand they cannot leave it to Australia alone to carry the democratic standard in the Pacific. While Modi’s decision not to invite Australia and New Zealand to the formal component of the India-Pacific meeting (they were invited to a lunch) raised eyebrows, it may actually have been quite useful.
If the objective is for India to step forward into a substantive and positive regional role, then it probably helps that the symbolism of the India-Pacific meeting was not diluted by “traditional” partners detailing their own familiar cooperative efforts with the region.