Beijing (AsiaNews) – Fish, wood, gold, silver, copper, minute business in the cities but even criminal gangs to “launder” dirty money: in Papua- New Guinea many activities are under Chinese control, who often unscrupulously exploit people and resources. But the public protest against this is on the rise and in recent months angered crowds have taken to sacking shops in the Chinese quarter, while watched by police.
Tens of thousands of Chinese, along with other Asians (Malaysians, Philippines) have illegally entered the country, but have quickly established themselves through cash and corruption. Now they control the Papuan fishing industry and the fishermen are exploited working long hours. Swathes of rain forest have been decimated for their precious woods, with no regard for the ecological consequences. Corruption and racketeering are widespread. In many cities main shops are owned by Asians.
Moreover the Chinese do not integrate with the other Asians or the local population; rather they aim to take advantage of the recourses with colonial methods. Only a few groups of Philippines, Catholics, are just in their payments. Japan, through its diplomatic representatives, has offered equipment for public structures and schools, but the inhabitants are hostile, because it reminds them of the violent occupation during the Second World War.
Chinese criminal gangs have also used the zone to “la under” dirty money and are taking increasing control of the territory. The meagre police force is unable to oppose them. Instead of money, the Asians have also imported grave social diseases, above all HIV, now widespread even in schools and Universities.
But now the peoples resentment is about to explode in street violence.
On the morning of September 20th in Mount Hagen, the third largest city in the country, a crowd of 6 thousand assailed and sacked numerous shops in Chinatown, the commercial district of Chinese and Korean predominance. Even primary school children were seen running with arms full of clothes, food and utensils. For at least 3 hours the city was thrown into chaos and the police failed to intervene, before the arrival of reinforcements who used teargas and warning shots to disperse the crowd. The next day there were more incidents, if isolated. The shops remained closed for the entire day and police had to patron the streets.
But similar incidents have already taken place in Papua in recent months, in Port Moresby, Lae, Madang, Rabaul. In November 2006, in Nuku’alofa, capital of close by Tonga, the shops of circa 30 Chinese were attacked and ransacked. Also in 2006 an angry mob attacked and set on fire the Chinese commercial area in Honiara, Solomon Islands.