By Leanne Jorari – EMTV News, Suva, Fiji
SUVA- The importance of a united Pacific has been stressed by Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General; Dame Meg Taylor as geopolitical tensions continue to weigh on the region.
Using the term, Blue Pacific, coined during the 2017 Forum Leaders meeting in Apia, Samoa; she said the Pacific Island nations are stewards of the Pacific Ocean and its resources and our boundaries need to be secured.
“The Blue Pacific narrative is the embodiment of our collective aspirations and how together we can achieve great things for our Pacific people and for our place,” Dame Meg told journalists ahead of the Forum Economic Ministers meeting in Suva later this week.
Dame Meg’s comments come at a time developed nations are vying for the affections of Pacific island states.
A local example played out during the recent APEC 2018 in Port Moresby, which saw a head to head between superpower’s China and the United States. While in Port Moresby to attend the APEC summit, President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping; demonstrated China’s growing interest and investment in PNG by opening significant infrastructure such as the Chinese built, US$12 million, 6-laned road from Waigani to directly in front of the National Parliament House.
What could be seen as a counter-reaction to the China-PNG relations; the US, Australia, Japan and New Zealand agreed on a range of deals with the PNG government; the most significant of which was to support the development of PNG’s electricity supply; a US$1.7 billion deal which will bring electricity to 70% of the population by 2030.
Geopolitical jockeying by development partners – old and new, has Dame Meg, an eminent Papua New Guinean with experience on the world stage, worried.
“What I am most anxious about in the region is what has happened with the influence of certain governments trying to focus on some countries, not other countries. Influencing some countries and not thinking about others. Dividing the collective,” Dame Meg said.
“If the Pacific starts working against each other it is like family, nothing happens of any great worth.” Dame Meg called for Pacific countries to maintain their unity.
Dame Meg said the challenge is tougher now with the different actors who are offering different bilateral packages within the region.
“Holding the collective together is a big challenge,” she told journalists