Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ramu NiCo Sustainability Report now available

The 8th RNJV Management Committee meeting held in Beijing recently. Pic by Ramu NiCo

DESPITE the global financial crunch and last years testing time which caused the global mining companies around the world to shut down projects and deferred new operations, Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd is committed to PNG and Ramu Project.

Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd President Madam Luo Shu gave this assurance in the first ever Ramu NiCo 2006 – 2008 Sustainability Report.

The Report can be accessed on or the company’s English website

Madam Luo said in her letter that the company’s next major milestone is moving the project into an operational stage in 2010.

The Report is the snapshot of the company’s most critical sustainability and business issues and covers activity between 2006 and 2008, with an intention to report regularly in the future.

According to the Sustainability Report, the two years into construction has seen some major infrastructure programs completed.

They include heavy duty Ramu NiCo bridge at Banu, Usino-Bundi; the road from the Kurumbukari mine to the Madang-Lae Highway; and the road linking the limestone quarry with the processing plant.

“Whereas prior to the bridge and road being built, villagers spent two and a half days traveling from Kurumbukari to Madang, now it only takes half a day,” The Report states.

Although Ramu Nico Project is in the construction stage, it had already built its permanent corporate office in Madang, a new landmark in the town and just one of a number of measures it is taking that demonstrates its long-term commitment to PNG.

“Furthermore, in 2009 we will spend K8 million (USD 2.85 million) on building the South Link Road, an expenditure outside of our original MoA, made specifically for the Kurumbukari mine site community.”

“Now we are in discussion with the Madang Provincial Government and local landowner representatives on the implementation program,” states the Report.
In its project economic impact snapshot, the project will lead to an increase of 8-10 percent of PNG’s GDP.

Over K10 million in spin-off business opportunities and nearly 1,300 jobs have been created for PNG nationals during the construction phase.

“During the operation phase over K8.3 mil will be spent on improving local community service and 1, 500 job will be created for PNG nationals,” the report states.

Papua New Guineans are not starving: Somare

Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael T. Somare

PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare told Australians that Papua New Guinea has sufficient food and people are not starving to death.

“… if you compare Papua New Guinea, with starvation, I think you have got it completely wrong, because our people have plenty in their villages. We have village society, we live in our traditional villages”, Sir Michael said.

Sir Michael said this in Australia during a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd earlier last week.

An Australian journalist asked the Prime Minister to confirm that the Australian tax payer’s money given to PNG in the form of aid is well spent.

“As a witness to your country’s poverty, I know that there are children starving, scavenging the streets for food, living out of cardboard boxes”.

“Can you guarantee Australians that every cent of their 0 million is going where it needs to?” an Australian journalist asked.

Sir Michael did not outline how the aid is spent to curb the alleged starvation.

But he said his government has allocated almost K980 million in the history of PNG towards the districts to help the rural population.

He however confirmed that there are children from parents who migrate to towns and cities living on the streets in Port Moresby and Lae but said the poverty in cities is not the reflection of actual village life which has surplus of food.

Sir Michael confirmed that there are one or two children in Port Moresby living on the streets and starving.“There is no-one in Papua New Guinea starving in the traditional villages. You probably see one or the two in Port Moresby - kids who come to look for opportunities for education and health, when they miss out, then they of course roam the streets,” Sir Michael said.

Sir Michael said PNG is not like Ethopia in Africa which has its population dying from starvation.

He said in Port Moresby, people have gardens in the hillsides to rely for food.

“But I just want to give you assurance that no one is starving in Papua New Guinea. We always have something to eat,” he said.

Ramu NiCo 2006-2008 Sustainability Report launched online

Caption: Directors of MCC-JJJ inspected Ramu NiCo Project Dec 7 - 14. MCC - JJJ is the ultimate Chinese shareholder company of the Ramu Project. Picture and caption by Ramu NiCo.

Below is an e-mail from Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd, company managing the Ramu Nickel Project in Madang, Papua New Guinea. I am sure you will be interested in this email and access further information from the web sites given.


Dear All,

Ramu NiCo is pleased to announce the release of the English version of the Ramu NiCo 2006-2008 Sustainability Report , the first Report as such for the Ramu Nickel Project in Madang, Papua New Guinea.

Please click the link below to read or download the electronic copy of the Report:

You can also visit us at for more information about the Project, including reading and downloading of the most recent issue of a redesigned, full color Ramu Nickel Updater, our Community Newsletter.

Best Regards,

Zhao Miao (Margaret)

Corporate OfficeRamu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd.



Wednesday, April 29, 2009

PNG is not starving: Sir Somare

Sir Michael in Beijing recently. Picture by Albert Tobby, Beijing

GRAND Chief Sir Michael T. Somare, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea had a difficult time trying to explain to an Australian journalist and tax payers that his country, Papua New Guinea is not starving of hunger.

But the journalist’s question depicts his ignorance on Papua New Guinea. Possibly, it’s the overall reflection of Australia media and Australians.

“I have got a question for Mr Somare. As a witness to your country’s poverty, I know that there are children starving, scavenging the streets for food, living out of cardboard boxes. Can you guarantee Australians that every cent of their 0 million is going where it needs to? And Mr Rudd are you 100 per cent satisfied that 0 million is being well spent and that Papua New Guinea is fulfilling its role under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals?”, the journalist asked during the press conference.

Unfortunately, he did not address Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister as Sir or Grand Chief but Mr.

Well, Sir Michael reiterated that his people have the land to depend on, if there is no cash to spend.

But unfortunately, he did not convince the Australian tax payers as to how their aid dollars sent to Papua New Guinea as aid has been spent.

Read more and other joint comments on the future bilateral relationship between the two countries and the issue on Fiji with his Australian counterpart, Kevin Rudd on:

Monday, April 27, 2009

I have no wife and son to murder, and why should I if I have!

Mathew Yakai walking along one of those beautiful parks in Beijing
Caption: Mathew Yakai in Beijing, China and not in Markham.

A news report by The National Wednesday 22 April carried a name similar to mine

Man wilfully murdered wife, son, court told
A MARKHAM man appeared for his murder trial at the National Court in Lae on Monday.
Mathew Yaki Yakai, in his late 20s, from Hinsi village, appeared before Justice George Manuhu on two counts of wilful murder.He is accused of murdering his wife and their three-year-old son in 2007.
The court was told that on Jan 8 that year, Yakai was in a garden with wife Monica and son Ezekiel at 9.30am.While they were there, Yakai and his wife had an argument.The accused then ran towards the woman with a bush knife and “chopped her all over the body”, the court heard.
She died from a massive loss of blood, prosecutors said.They further told the court that Yakai “then used the same bush knife to chop his son, who died on the spot”.He dumped the bodies in a nearby drain and went home, the court was told.
The accused did not tell anybody about what happened until two weeks later, when he told his brother, father and other relatives.He was arrested on Jan 20.The prosecutors said Yakai had planned to kill his family.
Two police officers, who said they recorded an interview with the accused on Jan 28, testified that Yakai “had made admissions of the incident during the interview”.Yakai denied both charges.The trial continues.
On Friday 24 April, 2009, The national published the developing story but with the different sir name.
Man acquitted of murdering wife, son
A MARKHAM man was acquitted by the National court in Lae of the wilful murder of his wife and toddler son on Wednesday.
Justice George Manuhu acquitted Mathew Yaki Matai, in his late 20s, from Hinsi village after a three-day trial when his father, who was brought in as the key State witness was declared a hostile witness.
The court was told on Monday that on Jan 8, 2007, Matai in an argument, chopped his wife all over her body with a bush knife then turned on their son.
His wife died from loss of blood while their son died instantly.Matai was alleged to have buried the bodies in a drain nearby and went home.
And the Tuesday 28th April The National Column 1 cleared the air, thanks to FK:

JOURNALIST and commentator Mathew Yakai got a shock recently to read in the PNG news that he might have murdered his wife and child. He was said to have committed the crime on the Markham plains. We are assured that he could not possibly be the culprit since he was in China when the crime occurred. Plus we are told he has no wife or son to murder. An unrelated namesake was the cause of the confusion.
* * *

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dragon at your door at cost innovation

Caption: Green coconut juice that better quenches ones thirst is seen at Canton Fair, Guangzhou, April 15 that ends May 7. The Fair is China’s largest and famous trading expo that attracted 22, 104 domestic and overseas attendee companies this year, one of PNG’s opportune forum to showcase its products. Did PNG attend? Pic by Canton Fair Guangzhou

By Albert Kaupa Tobby in Beijing

FORGET the idea that the rise of Chinese businesses simply means cheap, low-quality imitations flooding world markets.

But the fact is that Chinese business competitors are starting to disrupt global competitions by breaking the established rules of the game.

Their tool of choice is cost innovation; the strategy of using Chinese cost advantage in radically new ways offers customers around the world dramatically more for less and this is benefiting the more than half the world’s total population who lived in low income countries. PNG included.

Cost innovation has three faces, as identified by Ming Zeng and Peter J. Williamson of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing.

Ming Zeng and Peter Williamson in their book “The Dragon at Your Door” published by Harvard Business School was a 9 years research project sponsored by INSEAD and Cheung Kong Graduate School of Businesses.

They present three astonishing facts about the rising Chinese competitors and how their cost innovation strategy disrupts global competition.

As China is increasingly dominating global arena of business it is important that all keen developers, policy makers, business competitors and individual should be aware of these strategy to engage constructively with Chinese businesses.

The three faces of cost-innovation are as stated by M. Zeng and P. Williamson includes:

First Chinese companies are starting to offer customers high technology at low cost. Computer maker Dawning, for example has put supercomputer technology into low-cost servers that are the everyday workhorses of the world’s IT networks.
This novel strategy is demolishing the conventional wisdom that high technology is restricted to high-end products and segments.
And it is interrupting the game whereby established global competitors maximize their profits along the product life cycle by only slowly migrating new technology from high-priced segments toward the mass market.

Second, the emerging Chinese competitors are presenting customers or consumers with an unmatched choice of products in what used to be considered standardized, mass-market segments.
For example Goodbaby offers a product line of over sixteen types of strollers, car seats, basinets and playpens all at mass-market price, thus challenging the idea that if customers (consumers) want variety and customization, they have to pay a price premium.

Third, Chinese companies are using their low costs to offer specialty products at dramatically lower prices, turning them into volume businesses.

For example consumer appliances maker Haier has transformed the market for wine-storage refrigerators from the preserve of a few wine connoisseurs into a mainstream category sold through America’s Sam’s Club at less than half the then prevailing price.

The end result: Haier has 60% market share while yesterday’s niche players have been left floundering.

This new Chinese competitions is challenging the notion that specialty products must forever remain low-volume and high-priced.

These three new faces of the Dragon cost-innovation whilst disrupting the global business arena and threatening traditional key global players also provides tremendous opportunity to new emerging competitors.

Traditionally dominant players from the western liberal market economy who are advocators of competitions are now hesitantly pushed to the back stage of the global playing field paving the way for new champions lead by Chinese, followed closely by India, South Korea, Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia.

A good example of a Dragon cost-innovation that displaced established competitors from the core of the Market can be better illustrated in the case of China International Maritime Containers Group (CIMCG).

CIMCG has penetrated every segment of container markets, including products with sophisticated refrigeration, state-of-the-art electronic tracking, internal tanks, folding mechanisms and customize features – all niches that specialist European container makers believed could defend, despite their high cost.

Today CIMCG is the world’s number one in terms of volume, six times larger than its nearest competitor and dominating 55% of the global market share.

Ironically in 2005 CIMCG bought 77 patents from the bankrupt competitor Graaff – the German firm from which CIMCG licensed its first refrigeration technology back in 1995.

The Dragons compete in areas where conventional market norms considered unfavorable business environment and continuously neglected by traditional global players.

The areas for example, where lawlessness is rampant, illiteracy rate is high, and majority of the population living in rural subsistence agriculture.

Commonly known as the least developed economy and considered as the market periphery of the global market.

They start from the market periphery and gradually penetrating into the core of the global market and aggressively ceasing every little opportunity to maximize their gain and minimizing their costs.

While doing so, they transfer entrepreneurial skills, low cost technology, variety supplies of goods at affordable price and local market diversification for local customers.

Those countries that welcome the Dragons and strategically engaged them in their market have seen significant improvement of their market, example of such would be South Africa, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Today most of the world’s paramount leaders confessed that the presence of the Chinese firms at the core of the global market is inevitable.

Paul Skinner, Chairman of the Rio Tinto when selling 12% stake to the state-owned Chinalco said from Canberra last week that, “this is the way the world is moving and it is important that strategic partnership should be developed with China which is economically beneficial for Australia.” Rio Tinto made large chunks of mining in Australia.

US President Barack Obama in his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in London during the G20 Summit said publicly that US-Sino …“relations is not only important for the citizens of the two countries but also will set a stage for how the world deal with a host of challenges.”

Rusian President Dimitry Medvedev, Franch President Nicholas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown all share the same sentiments that in the current global condition, it is very important to maintain favorable relations with Chinese government and its people.

This shows the Dragon of the Middle Kingdom is again the epicenter of global business and the whole range of other global issues.

Even in this current global crisis multinational corporations in China continues to increase production and performance looks bright whilst their competitors in traditional market core looks grim.

A good example would be the US automaker General Motors (GM) with its joint venture partner SAIC in China expected to double sales in China to over 2 million units.

Despite stumbling on the edge of bankruptcy in the U.S., GM still sees China as the most important growth market in the world.

In 2008 alone, GM sold more than 1.09 million vehicles in China, which is 6.1% higher than 2007.

I have shared a lot about the Dragon-cost innovation strategy that can be used to effectively displaced established competitors from the core of the global market to the periphery and coincidently create new opportunity to those at the market periphery to catch-up and engage actively in the market core.

The Dragon’s influence is felt everywhere and PNG is no exception. The Chinese merchant’s ships were in PNG long before the Dutch and Portuguese Explorers set foot.

Chinese Traders were in PNG in the 16th century purely for the purposes of trade and not extending their more than 2000 years old imperial powers.

They were in search of Bird of Paradise plumes and trepang or beche-de-mer. PNG has the advantage of having ancient trade relations with the Dragon.

The geographic proximity of Sino-PNG is a strategic competitive advantage for both countries to effectively collaborate, to feed the rapidly increasing demand of manufactured goods from the Pacific Island nations.

Papua New Guinea has the labor base and resources, but lack the technological capacity and capital to turn its resource and labor into productive use.

China has the technological capacity and capital with a proven track record of growth through innovative production.

PNG is the center of the periphery of the global market. Over the years the global community often refers to Australia and sometimes New Zealand as the center of South Pacific Region.

That was during the period when the Dragon was just an observer and also struggling to fly out of the Middle Kingdom.

However with the rise of the Dragon out of the Middle Kingdom offers tremendous opportunities to PNG and other island nations which are often considered as the periphery of the region.

PNG has the potential to gain the center stage and influence regional and global issues.

What PNG need is simple user friendly technology, know-how skills and capital to create a rural based industrial economy, where the bulk of the population lives.

That is to start at the periphery of the national market, with cost-innovation production method.

That is exactly what the Dragon from the Middle Kingdom does best.

They offer the customers with high technology at low cost, present the customers with unmatched choice of good and finally they offer specialty products at dramatically lower price, turning them into volume business.

Combination of the strengths of a multinational using its technology, system, brands, and the experience with the reach of its existing subsidiaries and the cost innovation advantage built by the Dragon would be an unbeatable force in the global competition.

Note: This article is contributed by Albert Kaupa Tobby, a PNG student doing Masters program majoring International Development at Tsinghua University. Inquiries, contact Albert at e-mail

Friday, April 17, 2009

Somare: PNG upholds "One China Policy"

President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Somare met in Beijing (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Somare review the honor guard at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, on April 15, 2009. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)

Premier Wen and Prime Minister Somare met in Beijing (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)

By Mathew Yakai in Changchun, China

THE APRIL 14 visit to China by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare signifies one of the important bilateral relations PNG has with Great China by recognizing the “One China Policy”.

Somare’s trip is also significant given China’s huge investment in PNG.

On the political level, this trip is to build his reputation as the Father of the Nation after the most publicized Taiwan scandal.

Wide media publicity alleged that Somare involved in arranging a meeting for private lawyer Dr. Florian Gubon and National Alliance front man Timothy Bonga to negotiate PNG’s sovereignty with Taiwanese middlemen on a price tag of US$30 million.

Somare categorically denied the allegation even though Dr. Gubon told PNG through Post Courier that it was Somare who authorized the meeting with the Taiwanese foreign ministry officials in Taiwan in a trip funded by the Taiwanese themselves.

Reports have been conflicting and the cry from the people of PNG for an investigation into the scandal deems unlikely given Somare’s reputation of blocking any attempts to bring his alleged scandalous conducts in PNG politics to light.

Beijing does not care about PNG’s internal polity as long as Waigani recognizes “One China Policy”, which depicts Taiwan as part of China. That’s all China needs from Somare.

Somare in his meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao in Beijing earlier this week assured the people of China that PNG upholds “One China Policy”.

This clears the “black clouds” over Waigani that Somare who initiated this foreign policy stance in 1976 after PNG’s independence will not bow down on Taiwan’s dollar diplomacy, let alone Taiwan’s Trade Mission office in PNG that helps PNG in the agriculture sector.

But to win the trust of the Chinese people and to completely clear the guilt on every Papua New Guineans face, Somare should instigate an independent investigation into the Taiwan scandal to leave a good legacy after his political career.

This will complement well with his reputation building trip to Beijing and also strengthen PNG-China bilateral relationship in the long run.

PNG and China established their bilateral relationship during an interesting period. It was in 1976, one year after PNG gained independence in 1975 and two years before China’s economic reform and opening up in 1978.

Somare wasted no time to visit China in 1976 and today he is in a better position to tell PNG the tremendous changes China had experienced over three decades.

Somare would also know why his own country and the people still live in poverty, though abundant with natural resources with the democratic values imposed upon by Westerners.

The first trip in Oct 1976 established the foundation of the ongoing foreign policy of the two countries and healthy bilateral relationship enjoyed today.

Somare did not want to see PNG dependent on Australia which would be viewed as neo-colonialism and look for other alternatives where China after Mao died.

Somare arrived at the time the internal power struggle in China was completed and Hua Kuo-Feng who succeeded Mao was at the Peking airport to receive him.

The visit by Somare was to look into agriculture sector of China where PNG can learn from.

But China did not pay much change towards PNG in terms of foreign policy because China’s foreign policy reflects its domestic interest.

In other words, China’s foreign policy towards PNG was the same as it is to Africa, Latin America and other developing countries.

Somare knows this well as he is not new to regional and international politics, leave alone Waigani politics.

Born in 1936, Somare was elected a parliament member in 1968 where he led the Pangu Party founded in 1967.

He served as the chief minister of the self-government in 1973-1975, became PNG’s first prime minister from Sep 1975 to March 1980 and again prime minister from 1982 to 1985 and won the office a third time in 2002 before securing another term in August 2007.

He visited Beijing in Oct 1976 as prime minister and signed a communiqué on establishing diplomatic relations with China and later visited China as foreign affairs minister, opposition leader and prime minister in 1999, 2001 and 2004 respectively.

If Somare can look back over these periods and especially after 1978 following China’s economic reform, this scribe would applaud him for making a wise choice by recognizing the One China Policy.

This is particularly at the time where China is now a major player in all regional and international issues as depicted in the recent G20 Meeting and also its multilateral diplomacy on the foundation of collective approaches on issues of common interests, as opposed to post World War U.S. unilateralism.

Premier Wen when meeting Somare in Beijing as reported by state owned Xinhua , China stands ready to work closely with PNG given closer bilateral relationship between the two countries in various areas.

The Chinese government supports its competitive companies to invest in PNG and one such company that has tremendous positive impact on the lives of people today is Ramu NiCo.

This is a huge project with a total investment of approximately US$ 800 million and the first significant nickel-cobalt mining and smelting project, different to the conventional gold, copper and silver mining projects in the country.

The project is the biggest investment by a Chinese company, MCC, in PNG and the Pacific Islands, as well as one of the biggest overseas metal resource projects that a Chinese company has ever invested in.

According to MCC website, this world-class Nickel-Cobalt project will comprise open cast mines, slurry transmissions lines, a smeltery, port facilities, roads, power stations and other facilities.

The project is going to benefit PNG by increase tax revenue, foreign currency revenue, GDP and employment opportunities, as well as improving infrastructures in Madang Province, diversifying mineral products and adding value to the products.

Wen assured Somare that China stands ready to help PNG in its development and ask no more from PNG then recognizing the One China Policy.

Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Abal also flew from U.S.A. and met his counterpart Yang Jiechi in Beijing and assured him that PNG will always respect the One China Policy given the important relations between the two countries.

Yang told Abal that China pays close attention to PNG in every aspect of relationships and would like to continue into the future with the largest pacific island state abundant with natural resources.

Abal also presented a cheque worth $US531,300. to the Chinese Government on behalf of the Papua New Guinean Government to support post-quake reconstruction in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

Since the establishment of the bilateral relationship, high level exchanges between the two countries have been overwhelming, signifying one of the best relationships since 1976.

In trade, China is PNG’s seventh largest trading partner. The total trade volume between PNG and China was around K700 million in 2007.
PNG exports to China were around K470 million and imports were around K230 million.

China is a country of tremendous potential in many aspects that PNG can benefit from, if Waigani sees Beijing as a development partner.

From economic booming that rescued many poor people to housing and transporting boom, including better health services and service industries, the Chinese people are truly proud of their country.

The remaining largest communist state after the collapse of former Soviet Union is able to provide what her people need.

Living in China for almost 16 months, this scribe admires the people, their leaders and importantly their kindness towards foreigners and their willingness to help in times of need, like on the state level where the Chinese government is ready to work with any governments, including PNG.

Somare’s first trip to China was in 1976 when he became the first prime minister.

If this week’s trip was his last as the prime minister in his political career to kowtow to the Middle Kingdom like those neighboring countries during the Ming Dynasty then this is a good gesture in the modern state period. A sign of courtesy, indeed.

Before Somare hangs his sulu and sandal and gives his blessing to the next leader, this scribe suggests that he drives into the minds of his loyal sons in Waigani the importance of China to PNG particularly in the “One China Policy” foreign policy stance.

Now, if this is the last trip to Beijing then Somare must do one final thing by asking Beijing to support Waigani’s pledge for membership in ASEAN Regional Forum.

This is an important forum where PNG should not be an observer but a full member.

And there is no better place to showcase its potential then the coming 2010 Shanghai World Expo in Shanghai next year.

PNG, as the largest pacific island state needs its own pavilion with a big space to showcase her thousand tribes and cultures to China, the region and the world.

PNG should not be treated like another little island state with few thousand populations. PNG is a country of diversity and honestly unique so she needs a bigger space at the Expo.

Friday, April 10, 2009

“Rugby Diplomacy” promotes Pacific Island-China friendship

The Chevron Beijing Niu Xiongdi Rugby Union team standing tall for a game in Beijing. Pic courtesy by Bill Tomon
The Chevron Beijing Niu Xiongdi Rugby Union team. Pic courtesy by Bill Tomon

PNG players Daniel Pepson, Albert K. Tobby, Angelo Daniel Wak and Bill Tomon. Pic courtesy by Bill Tomon

By Mathew Yakai and Bill Tomon in China

EVER heard of the famous “Ping-Pong diplomacy”?

It’s one of the first public hints of improved U.S.-China relations came on April 6, 1971, when the American Ping-Pong team, in Japan for the 31st World Table Tennis Championship, received a surprising invitation from their Chinese colleagues for an all-expenses paid visit to China.

Time magazine called it "The ping heard round the world." On April 10, nine players, four officials, and two spouses stepped across a bridge from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland, ushering in an era of "Ping-Pong diplomacy."

They were the first group of Americans allowed into China since the Communist takeover in 1949. This happened during the Cold War period.

Today, diplomacy of all sorts happens between people of different nationalities.

“Rugby Diplomacy” is a right concept that can be used to promote the relationship between China and the Pacific Island countries not on the diplomatic level but through the clashes and crunches of bones on the rugby field.

Currently, there are different diplomacies occurring while this article is written.

It’s happening today in Beijing, thanks to the Pacific Island students, including Papua New Guinea students studying in China under the Chinese Government Scholarship.

They play with the Island Club, The Chevron Beijing Niu Xiongdi Rugby Union Club. Niu Xiongdi is “Beijing Coconut Brothers” in Chinese.

“Coconut”, the delicious nut that is “brown” outside and “white” inside does not apply to these Islanders when it comes to promoting their respective countries on the field as they showcase their warring aptitude with the western introduced rugby ball, nicely integrated into promoting “rugby diplomacy”.

The team was formed in February 2007 by a group of Pacific Island students studying in numerous universities in Beijing.

Plans to form this club, spearheaded by Tongan students Saimone Lavakei'aho and Tupou Vaipulu were however hatched with the assistance of former PNG student Thomas Kugam during the pre-Christmas dinner held at the PNG Embassy on Thursday, 15 December, 2006.

With the sympathetic ear lent to the cause by Chevron boss, Isikeli Taureka, as they say, the rest is history.

Together with the handful of ex-Nongda players led by former Chinese Internationals Leo Li, Niu Jian, Chen Changping, Gao Xuetong, Zhang Xin, Yu Zhang, and Sixiang Ma, the Beijing Xiongdi was set for their inaugural campaign in the 2007 Beijing Cup competition under the presidency of former Beijing devils RFU frontliner, Lahui Ako.

Lahui who was the former First Secretary to the PNG Embassy in Beijing, together with his wife, Daera Ako and Liza Gabina, PNG Embassy 3rd Secretary, had made a significant contribution to the successful establishment of the club.

The club, in its inaugural year is made up of players from China, PNG, Fiji, Vanuatu, FSM, Samoa, Tonga, and Norway.

It has already made two international tours first to Seoul, South Korea on Saturday, 12 May 2007 to play the Seoul Survivors RFU and then in May 2008 to PNG to play the PNGDF (Combined Team).

They have also added the 2007 Shanghai International 7s PLATE Trophy to their slowly growing trophy cabinet with space for many more.

In season 2008, the Club proudly finished first place in the domestic Beijing Cup competition winning the cup, including the tour to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea in May 2008 with the tremendous support of CHEVRON China, AMIRA Group and PNGDF.

The Club recently won the “Great Wall Ice-Breaker” Tournament on March 14, 2009 defeating the Shanghai Hairy Crabs (2008 champions) 12 points to nil.

The team was undefeated through out the tournament. The win was a sweet victory after losing to them last year in the semi-finals.

The win was dedicated to those who had worked so hard to get the club to where it is now including the founding members and management.

The Great Wall Ice-Breaker victory would have not been possible without the timely assistance of the “One Day Club”.

“One Day Club” is a new Chinese bar in Beijing, which offered to host the Brothers Rugby Club as their home while studying and playing rugby in Beijing.

Through careful negotiation by the club management led by Army Li, Chen Changping and Saia Uta’atu with the Owner & Manageress of One Day, the Brothers Rugby Club and One Day Bar signed a MOA for partnership in promoting the code of rugby in Beijing and China.

As per the MOA, the Beijing Xiongdi calls the One Day Club their home, where members enjoy 50% off all drinks and 20% off all food.

In return the Brothers players and members will continue to have all their official gatherings at Club house thus promoting its establishment and operation, making it a truly an international bar in Beijing.

The Brothers RFC successfully started season 2009 on a high note by winning the Annual Great Wall Ice-Breaker tournament.

The Brothers also anticipate to host the PNG Defense Force Combined Rugby Union Team, for a return match later this year. Preparation is well underway.

The Great Wall Ice-Breaker tournament marks the start of the new season following the lengthy winter break in Beijing.

It's a 15-a-side event that draws teams from around mainland China. Six teams participated in this year's tournament.

From the two pools, the Shanghai Crabs, Beijing Brothers and Japanese All Stars were in Pool 2.

Beijing Brothers and Shanghai Hairy Crabs qualified for the semi-finals of the Cup competition. Both semis were hard-fought contests in which the Beijing Brothers beat long-time rivals the Beijing Devils 8-0, while the Shanghai Crabs beat Beijing Longbang.

Tight defences, big hits and good counter-attacking rugby were the features of these games.

The final saw the Shanghai Crabs and Beijing Brothers meet for a very competitive contest, which eventually saw the Beijing Brothers beat the Shanghai Crabs by 12-0.

The Brothers were well-organized up front, tight in defence which resulted in no points against them in the semi-final and final.

Their performance suggests that the Beijing Brothers are going to be very tough to be beaten in the 2009 Beijing Cup.

The Club currently has more than 70 financial members and has a player base of 40, composing of Papua New Guineans, Fijians, Ni-Vanuatu, Samoans, Tongans, Micronesians (Federated States of Micronesia), and Chinese.

The club hopes that this base will expand in the new season by players from other regions of the world, due to its success last season.

The current PNG players are Daniel Pepson, Albert K. Tobby, Angelo Daniel Wak and Bill Tomon. Other PNG registered members of the club include, Liza Gabina, Genevieve Igara and Hildagard Rai.

The Club since its formation not only promotes the code of the sports – rugby but also endeavors to promote the diverse culture and traditions of the Pacific Islands people in China.

In September 2007 with the tremendous support from the pacific embassies in Beijing, China hosted the first of its kind “Pacific Islands Cultural Concert for Charity” in support of UNICEF “sports-in-a-box” program.

RMB 30,000 (K12, 000) of the funds raised at the concert was donated to UNICEF to fund its educational programs in China.

Majority of the club members are scholarship students studying under the Chinese Government Scholarship.

The Chinese Government through her Scholarship Council continues to provide scholarship to PNG and other Pacific Island students each year.

The number of students from each island countries increases each year. As the number of islanders in China increases, the Brothers Rugby Club provides the platform for all the islanders to interact with each other and keep their island identity alive.

The Club also helps the islanders to interact with the Chinese and other international communities in Beijing.

The Club is thankful and appreciates the continuous support of the Pacific Island Embassies in China in particular the Embassy of the Kingdom of Tonga and Independent State of PNG.

The Brothers Club also appreciates the Chinese Government commitment for continuously offering Scholarship to Pacific Islanders to study in China.

With the current summer heat, the Island “coconuts” are not aliens to such weather and are expected to run over the “Great Wall” with the mighty ripple effects of “Rugby Diplomacy” throughout the Middle Kingdom.

Yes, at last, the Islanders are playing the highly worshiped rugby game with Chinese in China and can no longer wait for Australia and New Zealand to show them their footy shows.

Note: Part of this article was contributed by Bill Tomon, a PNG student in Beijing and one of the founding members of the club. Further information, contact Bill on e-mail:

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Ramu NiCo Project deepens Sino-PNG friendships

Caption: President of MCC Shen attends cornerstone laying ceremony of Usino Primary School in Madang Province. Pic courtesy of MCC Times.

By Mathew Yakai in Changchun

MONDAY March 2, 2009 was a special day for Papua New Guinea when Sir Michael Somare announced to the world that PNG had become the home of the Southern Hemisphere and possibly the world’s largest vertical column of natural gas and gas condensation discovery.

Sir Michael travelled to InterOil’s Antelope-1 discovery well in the remote Wabo outpost in Gulf Province on the day and switched it on. It was history making in PNG’s mineral resources sector given the magnitude of the resource.

PNG, the island country that boasts its abundant mineral resources of various natures floating on the sea of oil will experience another milestone not far from today.

The Ramu NiCo (Ramu Nickel-Cobalt) Project is another milestone investment in PNG’s natural resource exploration and expected to be commissioned before or by June 30 this year according to the China Metallurgical Group Cooperation (MCC) newsletter, MCC Times Vol. 6.

While writing this article, no specific date was confirmed for the commission of the multi-million dollar project.

But MCC Times reported that the commission will be before June 30.

This is a huge project with a total investment of approximately US$ 800 million and the first significant nickel-cobalt mining and smelting project, different to the conventional gold, copper and silver mining projects in the country.

The project is the biggest investment by a Chinese company, MCC, in PNG and the Pacific Islands, as well as one of the biggest overseas metal resource projects that a Chinese company has ever invested in.

According to MCC website, this world-class Nickel-Cobalt project will comprise open cast mines, slurry transmissions lines, a smeltery, port facilities, roads, power stations and other facilities.

Sir Michael who was present at the foundation laying ceremony November 3, 2006 which marked the launch of Ramu NiCo Project if invited again during the commission of the project then he is likely to announce another achievement for PNG’s economy and the strengthening of relationship between the two countries, China and PNG.

The project is going to benefit PNG by increase tax revenue, foreign currency revenue, GDP and employment opportunities, as well as improving infrastructures in Madang Province, diversifying mineral products and adding value to the products.

During his visit to the project site from Feb 14 to 19, President of MCC Ltd, Shen Heting made sure the completion of various stages are achieved before the commission.

Shen met Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Puka Temu who praised the Chinese company for developing the project that will bring forth numerous benefits to the country.

Shen also met with Chinese ambassador to PNG, Wei Ruixing. Amb. Wei put a premium on the achievements made by MCC Group during the implementation of Ramu Project.

Wei also expressed thanks for MCC Group’s remarkable role in the advancement of economic and trading cooperation between China and PNG as well as the promotion of various ties between the two countries.

The million dollar project was a dream for the people of PNG for almost 40 years and few months from today, MCC will turn the dream into reality.

The Ramu project has been on the agenda of the PNG government since 40 years ago, only meeting its turning point when the Somare government invited MCC Groups to explore the resource in 2003.

The milestone achieved since 2003 as reported by MCC Times include:

> October 21, 2003 – PNG Minister for Petroleum and Energy visited Beijing for talks and signed memorandum of understanding with MCC.

> February 9, 2004 – PNG Prime Minister and Chinese Premier witnessed the signing of a framework agreement on the project by MCC, PNG government and partners.

> October 5, 2004 – Mallesons Stephen Jaques Law Firm was engaged to carry out due diligence investigations for Ramu project.

> March 30, 2005 – MCC and joint venture partners signed formal agreement for Ramu project at National Parliament House in Port Moresby.

> May 19, 2005 – Chen Jian, Assistant Minister for Commerce, met high-level delegation led by Minister for Petroleum and Energy Resources Moi Avei and Minister for Mining Sam Akoitai. The two sides had constructive discussions on strengthening economic cooperation, driving the Ramu project forward and encouraging Chinese investment in PNG.

> May 20, 2005 – MCC held technical symposium on laterite nickel and the Ramu nickel project. Companies related to the field made presentations on key technologies relevant to the Ramu laterite nickel project, including wet smelting, long-distance pipeline transportation and deep sea disposal of tailings.

> August 17, 2005 – MCC completed registration of local corporation for Ramu project in Port Moresby. Two entities are registered— MCC Ramu NiCo Limited and Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Limited.

> September 15, 2005 – MCC formally notified partners in PNG and the PNG government that the project would commence on September 9, 2005, marking the start of the second phase of the agreement. This signifies MCC’s formal entry into the project, acquiring an 85% share, and starting the work of the Joint Venture as one of its members.

> September 20, 2005 – MCC and other parties of the Joint Venture formally signed the Ramu Joint Venture Agreement.

> October 14, 2005 – Joint Operations Body members arrived in PNG, and reached agreement with PNG government on favorable policies and key elements of mining contract. The two sides started to implement joint-venture agreement and transfer assets. This signified the formal handover of the Ramu project to MCC.

> April, 2006 – MCC signed project financing framework agreements with China Import-Export Bank and National Development Bank, marking a significant step forward for the financing efforts.

> August 14, 2006 – Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Limited, on behalf of the Ramu Project Joint Operations Body, took part in the Ramu Project Stakeholders Forum, organised by the PNG Mining Ministry in Madang.

> September 21, 2006 – The EPC contract and third-party project supervision contact for the Ramu project were signed at ceremony held at Xiyuan Hotel, Beijing.

> October 14, 2006 – Governor General Sir Paulias N. Matane visited MCC Group, in anticipation of the start of construction.

> November 3, 2006 – Foundation laying ceremony for the Ramu Nickel Cobalt Project was held at the site of the smeltery in Basamuk, Madang Province.

According to its website, MCC, the investor in the Ramu NiCo Project is China’s leading multidisciplinary multinational company that is well known for its rewarding experience and strengths in scientific research, industrial engineering practice and international trading capabilities.

MCC is mainly engaged in EPC business (engineering, procurement and construction), natural resources exploitation, papermaking business, equipment fabrication, real estate development and provision of the related services.

MCC is a major driving force behind the growth of China’s steel industry, and a reputable contractor of a number of key projects both in China and abroad.

The company is a leading investor licensed by Chinese government in natural resources exploitation businesses.

MCC has to date invested as much as US$ 1 billion in mining resources abroad, and owns many production facilities and claims of resources including iron ores, copper, gold, nickel, cobalt, zinc, lead and aluminum, etc.

MCC is one of the largest equipment manufacturers in China, registering revenues of over RMB 18 billion in 2006.

It is also the only central enterprise that is authorized to run pulp-making and papermaking businesses in and outside of the country.

The company is a key property developer claiming an increasingly recognized brand - MCC Real Estate.
MCC owns total assets of RMB 83 billion and has over 50,000 technical and managerial talents.

The company stood No. 22 and 35 on the central enterprises list in 2006 respectively in terms of its total operating revenues and profitability.

Having said that, the scribe would like to bring in the role of State, which are major players in International Relations. But non-state actors have recently become major players in the arena too.

Non-governmental organizations like Green Peace and Transparency International, multinational companies like Coca Cola, International Organizations like United Nations and even individuals like Osama bin Laden can influence internal polities of individual countries, despite their military and economic strengths.

A new influential actor, “global terrorism” is now having lots of impact on world politics, even keeping US and her allies in Iraq and Afghanistan for a while.

While that is happening, China has been building network of countries in the African continent, South America and in Asia using its aid without conditionality’s and investing in natural resources.

Most of the Western media and scholars have criticized China on its aid and investment, claiming that Beijing’s diplomacy is worsening certain developing countries in Africa like Darfur.

Now, MCC Groups is genuinely investing in the million dollar Ramu project despite the negative publicities emanating from other China’s overseas investments.

But one fact remains. If the National Government in Waigani was unable to provide basic goods and services to the people of Wabo outpost in the Gulf Province then InterOil will provide in its LNG gas project.

Equally, the MCC Groups will bring economic opportunities to the people of remote Ramu area who may not have been able to experience tangible economic development from PNG governments since 1975.

For the benefit of PNG, MCC and the local people, this scribe appeals to all parties to comply with the laws to make this project a success.

The local people need the project to better their lives. Above all, Sino-PNG bilateral relationship will be further strengthened.