Xi arrives in Papua New Guinea ahead of APEC summit
President Xi Jinping arrived in Papua New Guinea on Thursday for a much-vaunted state visit ahead of an Asia-Pacific summit he is expected to dominate.
Xi touched down in Port Moresby, where he was greeted on the tarmac by tribesmen and women in traditional attire, complete with feather headdresses.
With US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin skipping the APEC leaders meeting in Port Moresby on Saturday and Sunday, Xi has golden opportunity to highlight China’s growing regional clout.
Xi kicks off a two-day state visit to the resource-rich and strategically important host country –- the first ever state visit here by a Chinese president — before meeting Pacific Island allies and delivering a keynote speech to Asia-Pacific CEOs.
On the eve of his arrival, Xi wrote in the country’s main newspaper that Papua New Guinea was “truly a land of great promise”.
“In recent years, bilateral ties have entered a new stage of rapid growth. Today, Papua New Guinea is China’s largest trading partner in the region, while China is the biggest foreign investor and project contractor in this country.”
He is expected to inaugurate Chinese-built infrastructure projects and get a traditional “sing-sing” Papua New Guinean welcome.
“President Xi Jinping is a good friend of Papua New Guinea” the country’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said ahead of Xi’s arrival.
The visit, he said, “is a clear indication of a growing bilateral relationship between our two countries.”
Xi’s visit is timed with a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a grouping of 21 economies advocating free and open trade as well as regional economic integration.
On Friday, he is expected to open a new road and be treated to a traditional “sing sing” — a colourful tribal welcome.
After Papua New Guinea, Xi heads to Brunei and the Philippines, whose President Rodrigo Duterte has forged closer ties with China for investments and trade.