According to a report on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) website on December 15th, last month, Fujian Zhonghong Fishery Co., Ltd. invested in the construction of a “comprehensive multifunctional fishery industry” on Dalu Island in the western province of Papua New Guinea (hereinafter referred to as “Papua New Guinea”). The signing ceremony of the memorandum of the “Park” project was held in Port Moresby, the capital of PNG. This commercial activity has aroused the attention of the Australian media in the neighboring country of PNG.
The report on the ABC website quoted Australian politicians as saying that China’s investment in fishery projects here has “ulterior motives” and may even threaten the United States and Australia’s joint naval base on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea! But most of the latter part of the report seems to reveal the true theme of the report: Australians are worried that this fishery industrial park will have a potential impact on the local fishing industry, especially lobster fishing.
Australian media reports pointed out that although Dalu Island, where the Dalu Fishery Industrial Park is located in the western province of Papua New Guinea, is about 200 kilometers from the Australian mainland, it is very close to the Australian island in the Torres Strait, so its strategic location is very important. Australian media quoted the remarks of Jeffrey Wall, the former PNG affairs adviser of the Australian government, saying: “Australians should definitely be vigilant.
Not only is this place close to Australia, but there is also the possibility of conflict in the Torres Strait.” Wall also stated that he believes that “China has ulterior motives in building a’base’ here.” In fact, Wall’s article published on December 8 in the publication of the Australian Institute of Strategic Policy, an anti-China think tank in Australia, was even more blatant. He baselessly claimed that Chinese fishermen had received military training and were essentially militia organizations, plus the military. The logistical support of the People’s Republic of China, “you can win without fighting in the occupation of territory.”
Australian media reports pointed out that Lechhart’s Federal Member Warren Enchi also made similar remarks. Enqi also said: “Given that Australia is working with the United States to establish a naval base on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, I am concerned that China’s activities on Dalu Island may have other motives.” However, according to Google Maps, Dalu Island and The straight line distance between the two places of Manus Island is more than 800 kilometers. If you take a boat, you need to bypass half of the island of New Guinea to reach it.
After hyping the so-called “military threat” that the “fishery industrial park” can bring, the ABC website reported “a sudden change in painting style”-the article wrote, “Aside from ulterior motives, Member Enqi said that he believed that the incident was right. The potential impact of the local fishing industry is worrying enough.” Australian media reported that in accordance with the Torres Strait Treaty, residents of 13 villages in Papua New Guinea can freely cross the border and are allowed to fish in Australian waters.
In addition, the treaty also stipulates that these Torres Strait islanders also have the right to catch lobster in the waters-these PNG fishermen’s lobster catch is a quarter of the “total allowable catch in Australian waters”. Congressman Enqi said that these lobsters are likely to be sold directly to China through PNG fishermen.
Phillip Ketchell, chairman of the Torres Strait Fisheries Association, also believes that in the past, Papua New Guinea fishermen only used their own fishing boats to fish and then return to Dallu to unload. However, Chinese companies will invest a lot of money to make them use more. Big and better fishing boats. Kechler bluntly said that Chinese companies may use the treaty to enter the local fishery sector from the “back door.” It is worth mentioning that China is the largest export market for Australian lobster.
According to Australian government data, from 2018 to 2019, the country’s lobster exports totaled 752 million Australian dollars, of which about 94% were sold China. However, the export of Australian lobster to China has been blocked recently, which has caused its domestic lobster prices to plummet. If China can import more lobsters from PNG, it will undoubtedly help Australia’s own lobster business.
According to Australian media citing Kechler’s view, since the “Torres Strait Treaty” was signed under the framework of international law, it is difficult for Australia to unilaterally review it. Therefore, if Australia wants to prevent Chinese companies from developing the fishery industry here, it is best through its “firm diplomatic relations and generous assistance program” with PNG and by exaggerating the so-called “national security” reasons, which is obviously more than just talking about the economy. The event is more sensational and noticeable.
China-Australia relations have been deteriorating in recent years. The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated many times that some people in Australia adhere to the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices, regard China’s development more as a threat, and adopt a series of wrong words and actions related to China. The root cause of the sharp decline in Sino-Australian relations and the difficult situation.