BRI projects bring significant benefits Papua New Guinea

BRI boosts local living standard, creates jobs, and nurtures skills in PNG

Papua New Guinea was the first country in the South Pacific to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the construction of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Projects undertaken by Chinese enterprises under the BRI have led to fruitful benefits for local people – higher living standards, more jobs and skilled training.

China and PNG signed the BRI MOU on June 22, 2018. Before the signing, economic and trade cooperation between PNG and China had already become increasingly vibrant, with PNG becoming the largest destination for Chinese investment in the South Pacific.

View of Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea Photo: VCG
View of Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea Photo: VCG

Shortfalls in core infrastructure had led to PNG becoming “isolated” and severely restricted its economic development. There was very little highway mileage, cargo transportation depended on sea and air, modern ports were scare, and airport facilities fell short of regional standards… all this has been altered with the completion of a number of China-PNG cooperation projects.


The International Convention Center in PNG, upgraded with the help of China Photo: Ministry of Commerce of China

The International Convention Center in PNG, upgraded with the help of China Photo: Ministry of Commerce of China

The Poreporena Freeway in Port Moresby, capital city of PNG, refurbished with the help of China Harbor Engineering Photo: China Harbor Engineering

The Poreporena Freeway in Port Moresby, capital city of PNG, refurbished with the help of China Harbor Engineering Photo: China Harbor Engineering

Now, evidence of Chinese partnerships can be frequently found in PNG. From the China built six-lane highway which was named “Independence Boulevard” to the upgrade of the International Convention Center in PNG.

These infrastructure projects at the same time have created intangible benefit for local residents. And, China has offered medial aid to PNG.

Infrastructure projects

The Tari Airport in the Hela Province of PNG, constructed by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), is a showcase for China-built infrastructure.


CCECC South Pacific Ltd. base in Papua New Guinea hands over the re-constructed Tari Airport to the government of PNG on September 16, 2020. Photo: CCECC

CCECC South Pacific Ltd. base in Papua New Guinea hands over the re-constructed Tari Airport to the government of PNG on September 16, 2020. Photo: CCECC

Before the airport project, the province had no airport facilities available, and local residents had to travel to the neighboring province to take a flight, CCECC told the Global Times.

With the successful completion of the Tari Airport project, residents of Hela Province now have their own airport, putting an end to the history of flying across provinces, said CCECC.

According to local media reports, the Tari Airport remained closed following the massive 7.5 magnitude earthquake in 2018 that damaged the runway.

At the same time, the Tali Airport project drove up the demand among upstream material and equipment suppliers and downstream subcontractors, which stimulated local economy. 

CCECC also hired and trained local employees, leaving behind a group of skilled local technicians.

 CCECC South Pacific Ltd. base in Papua New Guinea hands over the re-constructed Tari Airport to the government of PNG on September 16, 2020. Photo: CCECC

CCECC South Pacific Ltd. base in Papua New Guinea hands over the re-constructed Tari Airport to the government of PNG on September 16, 2020. Photo: CCECC

Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina) also undertook airport projects in PNG. The Gurney Alotau Airport in Milne Bay Province is the first project undertaken by PowerChina in PNG.The Gurney Airport project obtained a performance certificate issued by the owner – National Airports Corporation of Papua New Guinea – marking the end of the warranty period and the official completion, PowerChina told the Global Times.

The project included a runway extension, upgraded drainage system in the boarding area, extension of existing terminal and car parks. The main construction of the project was completed 33 days ahead of schedule at the end of December 2019, according to PowerChina.

“After the completion of the upgrade, the passenger volume of the airport will increase, which will promote the development of local tourism, and is of great significance for improving people’s livelihood,” said PowerChina.

The construction of Mendi Airport in Southern Highlands Province, also undertaken by PowerChina, which started in September 2018, is still underway.

Due to new construction projects in the contract, the construction period has been extended. The runway has been completed pending formal handover, while the terminal is under construction, with the terminal foundation, steel structure, roof and pipeline wiring already completed, according to PowerChina.


China's LNG import from Papua New Guinea in 2021 and major trading commodities between China and PNG Graphic: GT

China’s LNG import from Papua New Guinea in 2021 and major trading commodities between China and PNG Graphic: GT

Beyond infrastructure

While completing projects, Chinese enterprises are also fulfilling their social responsibilities in PNG.

For instance, the construction team of Mendi Airport project of PowerChina has dispatched vehicle crane to rescue and return a damaged police car from an accident to the police station in December 2021, after receiving requests for assistance.

Apart from a large number of infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and airports, the BRI has also brought other benefits to local people.

For example, China has helped PNG build schools. The Butuka Secondary School was the first project funded by Shenzhen city in South China’s Guangdong Province, which is the sister city of PNG’s capital city Port Moresby. The school accommodates about 3,000 students.

Meanwhile, China has introduced new technologies to PNG. For instance, the Juncao technology and dryland rice projects aided by East China’s Fujian Province will help promote agricultural industry in PNG. 

During the pandemic, China has offered medical help to PNG. In June 2021, 200,000 doses of China-made COVID-19 vaccines arrived in PNG to help fight local epidemic.

China's donated COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Port Moresby, capital city of PNG, on June 23, 2021. Photo: Chinese embassy in PNG

China’s donated COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Port Moresby, capital city of PNG, on June 23, 2021. Photo: Chinese embassy in PNG

According to a joint statement released by China and PNG in February, the two sides agree to strengthen practical cooperation on trade, investment, energy, resources, infrastructure, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and downstream processing, and expand exchanges and cooperation in education, culture, youth, health, sports, and law enforcement, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Chinese companies and officials will continue to provide PNG with economic and technical assistance with no political strings attached, and support PNG in developing its economy and improving local living standard.

The two sides also agreed to enhance synergy between the BRI and development strategies of PNG.


Source: Global Times, May 31, 2022. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202205/1267048.shtml

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