In a move experts say could give Beijing even greater influence over Australia’s nearest neighbour, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape has reached out to China to help refinance its 27 billion kina ($11.8 billion) national debt.
- Experts are concerned PNG could become shackled to China’s political interests
- PNG’s debt stands at about 32.8 per cent of GDP
- PNG wants to move away from an “aid-donor” relationship with Australia
Mr Marape made the request yesterday in a meeting with China’s ambassador to PNG Xue Bing in Port Moresby, according to a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon by his office.
But this afternoon, the Prime Minister appeared to backtrack on the Government’s earlier claims and said the statement was issued to media without his knowledge.