MADANG, Papua New Guinea — When Chinese engineers landed in Papua New Guinea in 2006 to inspect their latest mineral acquisition, they faced an arduous journey through the tropical wilderness. They drove over crumbling roads to the Ramu River, then found natives with dugout canoes to paddle them upstream. Next, they hired another team of locals with machetes to slash a rough trail for eight hours through the steamy jungle, dodging poisonous snakes and malaria-carrying mosquitoes.Lenthy, informative and wide-ranging, great work. China's interests in Papua...and Chen Shui-bian's diplomatic initiatives -- overlap. And the KMT is busy digging into the PNG initiative with the indictment of former Chen Administration official Chiu I-jen...
"It was terrible," recalls Wang Chun, the chief engineer. "You couldn't breathe."
Today, less than three years later, a series of small Chinatowns has emerged in the jungle — complete with Chinese food, Chinese satellite television channels and crews of Chinese migrant labourers living in cheap dormitory huts. Where once was wilderness, you find the workers of China Metallurgical Group Corp., toiling seven days a week and chattering about their families back home in Beijing and Sichuan.
It hasn't been easy. The state-owned mining company has dealt with violent clashes with local landowners, striking workers, attacks from the media and unfriendly police who arrested more than 200 Chinese technicians on charges of illegally entering the country. But today it is transforming the economy of Papua New Guinea. Its $1.4-billion nickel and cobalt mine (all figures U.S.), the biggest construction project in the country, will employ 4,000 people at its peak, adding at least 10 per cent to the national economy every year.