PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 25, 2008) - The power play being acted out in the highest Himalayan country, Tibet, is a warning signal to all countries that deal with China.

China itself was subjected to severe colonial practices when held under the control of the British Empire. Now it would seem China is playing the same sort of role it objected to in the past with the British. It is subjugating an independent group of people to its authority without the blessing of those people.

Tibet is a country with its own distinct ethnic group and its own style of life, largely governed by its own religion. Yet it was swamped by the military might of China half a century ago and has been steadily suppressed in the decades since, more and more firmly.

Now, on the eve of the 2008 Olympic Games as China tries to persuade us that it is modern and opening up to the rest of the world, it is tightening its grip on Tibet and stifling any expression of culture and individuality that has survived the half-century of repression.

Countries like Papua New Guinea, succumbing to the octopus-like extension of Beijing’s influence through trade, should watch the Tibet situation and take heed of what is going on.

Independent reports assert that China has virtually made the Tibetans spectators in their own land as ethnic Chinese take on most of the administration and business roles in Tibet.

China’s much admired engineering feat of pushing a railroad up the mountains and into the Himalayan realm has a sinister side. It will make it so much easier for Beijing to send in the troops in large numbers, as well as to continue the influx of Chinese into the Tibetan economy.

China and India are now seen as the emerging titans in the world economy and many nations, even the United States and Russia, are rushing to do deals to get a cut of the action from those two rapidly expanding trade centers.

Now Papua New Guinea is seeing the first strong moves of Beijing, with the takeover of the Ramu nickel project by a state-owned Chinese company.

There have been hiccups with the nickel project already with signs that the Chinese ideas of labor and health standards are not matching up with ours.

Papua New Guinea’s politicians and diplomats would do well to assert our independence and ensure that we get the best of deals when transacting trade with China.

If not, we may live to regret it.

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