Papua New Guinea has never been so popular. Big world players will all be looking to win over the small island state at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC. The competitors are all vying for a slice of influence in the region, sending flashy gifts to one of the poorest countries in the Pacific.
Here to explain its appeal, Reuter's Jonathan Barrett.>> It has a lot of resources, in particular oil and gas. It also has deep water ports, which could potentially carry military vessels. And it is one of the closest land masses to the US military operation on Guam. Australia has historically been the major ally of Papua New Guinea, but in more recent years, China believes that the South Pacific is its backyard and its area of influence.
>> Most of the big ticket items will be branded with Chinese insignia. It's refurbished the showpiece Convention Center and funded a new boulevard. While sources told Reuters what residents really need is medical and school equipment, the Beijing-funded street is set to include illuminated foot paths and nature reserves in a not-too-subtle sign, there's a new player in town.
The PNG government is keen to put on a show at the forum. It's even flown in a fleet of luxury cars, like Bentleys and Maseratis.>> This has caused some outrage in local communities, and there have been protests. Our sources tell us most visiting leaders will have their own armored vehicles, so it's not apparent what these luxury vehicles will be used for, and this is creating some angst.
This is happening at the same time as PNG is still recovering from a deadly earthquake about nine months ago, and there's also been a recent outbreak of polio.>> But the big regional powers like Australia will be reluctant to criticize the government as it looks to beat out China for important defense ties with the island.