Feature: Learn and showcase -- Papua New Guinea seeks more engagement with China, world

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-15 11:14:21|Editor: Yang Yi
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PORT MORESBY, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- Michelle McGeorge, an Australian in her 30s, has nurtured so profound a love for Papua New Guinea (PNG) that she began to call it "our country" after working in a nature park here for eight years.

"It's a fantastic country that has so much to offer, with its untapped potential in tourism," said McGeorge, general manager of the Port Moresby Nature Park, which features a rainforest trace and the best of highly varied indigenous flora and fauna species of the country.

"But people don't know much about it," she said. Located in the southwest of the Pacific Ocean, PNG is one of the world's least explored countries both culturally and geographically.

"PNG really wants to shine on the world stage," McGeorge said. In that respect, she said she wants to thank China in particular, for helping the Oceanian country "show off" by constructing many of its infrastructure projects, some of which are venues for the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings.

The geography of PNG, comprising about 600 small islands, is diverse and can be extremely rugged in many places, making it difficult for the country to develop infrastructure, especially transportation. Many Chinese enterprises have crossed the ocean to build roads, ports and public facilities.

McGeorge, who lived in China's southern Guangdong Province for a year before coming to PNG, is a witness of the partnership between the two countries. "The relations between China and PNG are very strong," she said, adding that "we can learn from China to better our country."

For her nature park, she sees an opportunity to learn from China in fostering a tourism industry. "China has an amazing tourism industry," said McGeorge, who had traveled through China from Beijing to the southwestern cities of Guilin and Chengdu.

Geremy Mogi, an APEC coordination official, sees a unique opportunity for his country to shine in the APEC meetings, which are regarded by the PNG public as one of the most important events in the country's 43-year history.

"This is the first time we are having such a massive number of (leaders) from across 21 economies, which has never happened before," he said. "We want to learn and we want to showcase."

Perched on reclaimed land near Ela Beach in Port Moresby's central business district, APEC Haus, the Leaders' Conference Center, resembles a lakatoi sail, ready to embark on a journey in the Pacific Ocean. Leaders from the Asia-Pacific economies are gathering in the capital for the APEC Economic Leaders' Week on Nov. 12-18.

Mogi has been paying frequent visits to a gymnasium-turned media center for APEC meetings to supervise its final preparations. The walls of the venue have been painted red, black and yellow, the colors on PNG's national flag, which features a yellow raggiana bird-of-paradise ready to rise up into the sky.

He said he looks forward to Chinese President Xi Jinping's remarks at the event, which would be inspiring for his country's development.

The Chinese president is set to pay a state visit to PNG on Thursday and Friday, the first of its kind since China and PNG established diplomatic ties in 1976, and to attend the APEC economic leaders' meeting on Saturday and Sunday.

"I have been following the news about the Chinese president over the past couple of years. A lot of people respect what he is doing," Mogi said.

Like an ocean, the Chinese economy has been nurturing and benefiting smaller economies such as PNG, he said, citing Xi's remarks at the China International Import Expo held in Shanghai earlier this month that the Chinese economy is not a pond, but an ocean.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said in a recent interview with Xinhua that his country needs to engage with large economies like China which can ensure that capital and skills are readily available to invest in a country like PNG.

"We have a large resource base, but we don't have the capacity to develop those," he said.

He said his country believes in and supports Xi's visions on global issues such as climate change and economy. "We value that and we look forward to seeing him here."

KEY WORDS: Papua New Guinea