Wednesday 04th April 2023
PNG’s Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko has reassured China that the proposed Bilateral Security Treaty with Australia is one that will cover a broad spectrum of areas such as policing, health security, climate change, gender security, biosecurity amongst others.
Minister Tkatchenko, when addressing the Boao Development Forum in Hainan, China, on 30 March, added the Treaty will be one focused more on building PNG’s capacity.
and capabilities to face these security challenges from the external environment but more importantly internally, and it will not be solely defense agreement between PNG and Australia.
China’s State Counselor and Foreign Affairs Minister, His Excellency Mr. Qin Gang had earlier raised concerns over the proposed PNG – Australia Bilateral Security Treaty and its intended purposes, when discussing security matters with PNG’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Justin Tkatchenko at the Boao Forum, in Hainan Province on 30 March 2023.
Mr. Gang said the purported bilateral security agreement with Australia was not in some way seeking to counter China’s influence in PNG and the Pacific, reiterating that China’s presence in the Pacific is not a security threat.
He clarified that China’s presence in the Pacific region was to promote development cooperation and enhance collective efforts towards addressing challenges faced by both Pacific Island Countries and China as developing nations.
Mr Qin Gang also raised China’s concerns about the Australia United Kingdom and United States of America (AUKUS) alliance and Australia’s acquiring of nuclear-powered submarines.
He compared this alliance to a typical Cold War mentality and violates the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, as well as the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty also known as the Rarotonga Treaty of 1986.
The Treaty formalizes a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the South Pacific and bans the use, testing and possession of nuclear weapons within the borders of the zone.
Foreign Minister Tkatchenko however emphasized PNG’s strong support on the Pacific being a nuclear-free zone, stating the PNG National Executive Council’s endorsement of the signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, to which he is looking forward to signing upon the PNG Government’s endorsement.