Papua New Guinea, US Sign Security Pact

    Papua New Guinea, US Sign Security Pact
    Last updated May 22, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia


    • On Monday, US Sec. of State Antony Blinken signed a defense and maritime surveillance agreement on behalf of the US with Papua New Guinea (PNG). The pact bolsters military cooperation, increases the Pacific island nation's defense capabilities, and protects its economy from illegal fishing.[1]
    • The defense pact will give US forces access to PNG's airfields and ports as Washington tries to fend off China's rise in the Pacific. Washington has growing concerns about Beijing's increasing influence in the region after the Solomon Islands signed a security pact with Beijing last year.[2]
    • On Sunday, university students from across the country protested the defense cooperation agreement and demanded more transparency from PNG's Parliament about the deal's substance and implications before the signing.[3]
    • The US Dept of State said that the full agreement will be made public once politicians in both countries have had an opportunity for input, likely in a few months. Papua New Guinea is the Pacific's most populous island nation, with nearly 10M people, and is strategically important due to its location north of Australia.[4]
    • Meanwhile, the US State Dept. also announced that it would provide the PNG Defense Force with $45M in aid — including protective equipment, and help mitigate the impacts of climate change, transnational crime, and HIV/AIDS.[5]
    • The PNG said in a statement Saturday: "This agreement is not about geopolitics but rather recognizes the country's need to build its defense capabilities because border disputes are inevitable in the future." The statement also said the agreement does not limit PNG from working with China.[6]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    The US defense pact with the PNG should be seen in light of last year's security pact between the Solomon Islands and China. Since then, the US has increased its focus on the Pacific, trying to find better ways to cooperate and bring in aid and investment as a way to counter the rather aggressive PRC investments to influence the Pacific region. The agreement will also allow the US Coast Guard to partner with the PNG to counter illegal fishing and drug smuggling. It's a win-win for all.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    There are valid concerns that PNG will be dragged into the militarization of the Pacific when signing the security pact with the US because of the island nation's proximity to the "AUKUS" security pact. A leaked draft treaty revealed the deal would give the US armed forces uninhibited access to PNG's territorial waters and airspace. Of particular concern are immunity clauses for US defense personnel operating in the country, which some fear could be unconstitutional. There have also been objections that the whole deal lacks transparency.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 25% chance the Solomon Islands will host a Chinese military base before 2032, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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