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China has asked Papua New Guinea to use its influence with regional neighbours to ensure a representative for Beijing is able to address next week’s Pacific Island Forum, after a diplomatic incident last year when the Chinese delegate staged a walkout.
The Australian understands the PIF secretariat has told participants at the forum in Tuvalu they will be required to adhere to a strict speaking order, following accusations of “bullying” behaviour by the Chinese envoy at last year’s Nauru forum.
Envoy Du Qiwen protested last year after Nauru President Baron Waqa ordered him to be seated to allow Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga to speak.
Tensions will be high once again between China’s representative and this year’s host, as Tuvalu — like Nauru — has diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
PNG Prime Minister James Marape said Chinese ambassador Xue Bing had raised concerns with him about the Forum, “and urged PNG to support China to allow it to speak” at PIF’s dialogue partners event.
“This is based on its similar experiences in Nauru in which the Chinese delegation was refused to talk,” he said.
Marape, said he had been told China planned to address the forum on “strengthening its relations in the region through economic development assistance and climate change.
He will also urge Pacific leaders to consider a free-trade deal with China.
PIF delegates have recently been reminded that Forum protocol requires that presidents and prime ministers will speak first, followed by ministers and then national representatives.
SOURCE: THE AUSTRALIAN/PACNEWS
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