Exclusive: Reports claiming ‘China building military base’ in PNG baseless, hype with ulterior motives: Chinese Embassy
Published: Jul 11, 2022 07:17 AM
China Papua New Guinea Photo:VCG
China Papua New Guinea Photo:VCG

The Chinese Embassy in Papua New Guinea(PNG) has strongly refuted media reports claiming China's cooperation with PNG in the Ihu Special Economic Zone is aimed at building a military base, saying the report was "completely baseless and hype with ulterior motives." 

The response came as a Daily Mail Australia report claimed on July 3 that China has "handed over $30million to get a special economic zone in the town of Kikori in PNG's Gulf Province off the ground and are desperate to invest more."

"The futuristic $8 billion development project is set to include an airport, naval base and military base carved out of jungle land in Orokolo Bay at - about 250km northwest of the capital Port Moresby," claimed the report.

The report also cited Peter KenGemar, the project director for the special economic zone, who told 60 Minutes Australia that "he does not have a preferred business partner for the ambitious project but admitted Chinese cash is rolling in."

"We're already getting support from China in the military and they have opened the door already…If they increased the amount of support they're giving in that space, in the military space then they might pick up those two bases," Peter KenGemar  was quoted as saying in the report.

The remarks made by the relevant person from the Ihu Special Economic Zone Project "do not square with the facts and are irresponsible," the Chinese Embassy in PNG said in an exclusive statement sent to the Global Times on late Sunday.

The Chinese Embassy also noted that China and PNG have been carrying out practical cooperation in various fields based on the principles of mutual respect and mutual benefit, including exploring, at the request of the PNG side, the possibility of economic investment and infrastructure development cooperation on the projects like Ihu and other Special Economic Zones. 

Both China and PNG oppose third-party interference and sabotage, and will continue to conduct normal cooperation, the Embassy said.

PNG officials also refuted the reports in a statement on Sunday. Elias Rahuromo Wohengu, the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of the Independent State of PNG, said that news reports claiming China was intending to establish a military base in either Daru, Western Province or within the Ihu Special Economic Zone in Kikori, Gulf Province are misleading.

The concept of the economic zone was launched during the APEC Leaders' Summit in 2018 in PNG. PNG invited all APEC economies including the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China among others the opportunity to invest in this large national economic project.

Wohengu stressed that all APEC economies and PNG's development partners are all invited to participate in the development of the economic zone, but so far only China had expressed interest in being part of this national project.

"We want shipping ports open for International shipping line to export the products that would come out from the Ihu Special Economic Zone Project and allegations that China would use their involvement in this national project to establish a Military base is unfounded and very harmful to say the least to PNG/China bilateral relations," Wohengu said in a statement on Sunday.