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At Apec, there'll be no escaping China's growing influence in the Pacific

2018-10-06 08:22:02       source:The South China Morning Post

October 6, 2018

In just a month’s time, Peter O’Neill’s government in Papua New Guinea will host the biggest diplomatic event of its 43-year life – the meeting of leaders from the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) economies.

The poorest and least developed of all the Apec economies, this elemental country of just 8 million people boasts more than 820 distinct languages, and its high-mountain rainforests are still home to dozens of “uncontacted” tribal communities. North of Australia, and making up the eastern end of the string of islands that make up Indonesia, it tapers off into the Pacific Islands and the Pacific’s ring of fire.

The unprecedented challenge of hosting the thousands of regional leaders in its tiny capital, Port Moresby, has obsessed the country’s leaders for the past four years – as it has leaders in Australia, who have provided huge financial support. Cruise ships are being brought in to deal with the shortage of hotel rooms.

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