Chinese surveillance near PNG expanding as Australia and US begin Manus Island naval upgrades

Source: ABC Australia

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Key points:

Chinese ships deployed to waters near Manus Island as Australia and US announce naval base upgrades

The vessels are among a fleet increasing its surveys around the Philippines, Palau, Guam and Japan

Experts believe the information could be crucial in any future maritime conflict

The deep-water Chinese scientific surveys are part of Beijing’s unprecedented oceanographic research of the Western Pacific, in an area experts believe could be crucial in any future maritime conflict with the US.

Military analysis of GPS satellite data reveals two Chinese research vessels entered PNG’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) north of Manus Island, just weeks after US Vice President Mike Pence announced a joint redevelopment of the ageing Lombrum naval base.

The ships involved, the Ke Xue and Hai Ce 3301, are part of a two-dozen strong Chinese “Distant-Ocean Research fleet” that has conducted expansive maritime surveys around the Philippines, Palau, Guam and Japan over the past two years.

According to a December 23 report seen by the ABC, the “even spacing between legs in Papua New Guinea’s EEZ indicates bathymetric data collection” taking place.

Senior Australian and American military officials acknowledge the oceanographic surveys are entirely lawful, but believe the civilian ships are also gathering invaluable data for future defence operations.

“The information gained for resource purposes has dual use for military purposes,” one long-serving Australian defence official has told the ABC, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“Establishing the baseline data around what the seabed is made out of, what the seabed terrain is like, the salinity and what thermal layers exist in the water is useful for mining but it also helps determine the acoustic conditions for submarine operations.

“You can hide under thermal layers and you are harder to locate amongst the clutter of rocky jagged sea beds — throw in measurements of ambient noise levels of the ocean from, of all things, snapping shrimp in tropical waters, and you start to build a really useful set of mission planning data.”

Officially the Australian Defence Department is saying little about the Chinese oceanographic activity, except to note that “our region hosts a high volume of maritime traffic, including military and other state vessels, from a range of nations”.

“International law permits the conduct of marine scientific research in international waters, within certain parameters, provided that activities do not infringe on the rights of other states or unjustifiably interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea,” a department spokesperson told the ABC.

 

Beijing insists missions are scientific and entirely lawful

China’s military has received a lot of attention in recent years for its activities in the South China Sea and beyond the “First Island Chain”, which stretches from Taiwan down to Malaysia and Vietnam.

Now Chinese civilian ships are increasingly being deployed beyond the mostly US-aligned “Second Island Chain”, and according to the US Naval War College the scale of Beijing’s investment in these operations now dwarfs that of any other country.

A US Naval College report from November 2018 concludes “China’s out-of-area oceanographic research activities raise a number of concerns for US policymakers”.

In response to questions from the ABC, China’s Foreign Ministry insists its rapidly expanding oceanographic mapping activities are all conducted within international law and are helping global scientific understanding.

“China’s oceanographic, scientific research in the Western Pacific is totally in line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and made contributions to maritime scientific study,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

“We hope every country can put in perspective China’s scientific research activity and refrain from disturbing the normal cooperation for maritime research and study between China and other countries,” he added.

 

Retired admiral says Chinese surveys on similar scale to USSR’s operations

A retired two-star admiral who once headed Australia’s Border Protection Command believes Chinese mapping of the world’s oceans is now on the same scale as Soviet maritime operations during the height of the Cold War.

“It’s very similar to the pattern of Soviet Union behaviour in the 1960s, 70s and 80s and the Soviets’ knowledge of the world’s oceans was really quite enormous,” says Rear Admiral James Goldrick.

The former naval officer, who is now an adjunct professor at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, says the full extent of China’s maritime surveys in this region is still not known.

“Chinese naval intelligence gatherers will not be shining a (GPS satellite) beacon, they’re not required to by law, and of course it’s quite possible some of the government-owned ships aren’t always radiating on their beacons to show where they are and who they are.”

Australian army engineers deployed to Manus Island to begin naval base upgrade

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Last month, Defence chiefs from Australia and Papua New Guinea met in Canberra to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, which will guide the joint upgrade of the Lombrum Naval Base.

In late February, members of the Australian Army’s 19th Chief Engineer Works unit began working with PNG counterparts on initial master plans for the soon-to-be-developed facility.

The Federal Government says the increased cooperation at the PNG Defence Force base in Manus Province is a “natural extension of our longstanding and collaborative Defence partnership”.

The scale of the US commitment is not yet clear and last year Mr Pence did not say how much money the Trump administration would contribute to the project, or whether American vessels would be permanently based at Lombrum.

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Madang calls for review of Ramu nickel mine deal

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Source

The world class Ramu Nickel project that integrates mining, beneficiation and refining is located in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea. It is composed of laterite open-pit mining, 135km slurry pipeline, high pressure acid leaching, deep sea tailings placement (DSTP) as well as a number of supporting facilities. The Project produces nickel/cobalt intermediate product, in which the aggregate nickel metal accounts for 31,000 tones per year and cobalt 3,000 tones per year. The large scale construction commenced in 2008 and by early 2011 the construction was substantially completed.

 

THE Madang provincial government is now calling for a review of the memorandum-of-agreement (MoA) of the Ramu nickel mine in Madang as soon as possible.  Governor Peter Yama said yesterday that the revised MoA had lapsed last November.

He said the MoA entailed negotiations between all the affected stakeholders and was important as it complemented the head agreement – the mining development contract.

Madang provincial government lawyer Ben Lomai said:

 

“How can we regulate the relationship between the joint venture, the State, the Madang provincial government, the four local level governments within that area and the landowners?

 

“All the obligations, requirements and benefits are all encompassed in the MoA.

 

“If you remove the MoA, how can the Ramu joint venture operate by using the head agreement, which is the mining development contract?

 

“That’s why it’s important to have the MoA in place.”

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Transgogol Killings Must Stop

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Issue: #0319-4

Article contributed by Robert Mukoi

I am prompted to put out my view regarding the acts of killing and beheadings around the Transgogol area of Madang. Most of the killings were very gruesome and barbaric in nature.  Many of these killings were unreported because the villagers and local leaders are terrified of being the next target if the murderers were reported. The latest killing at Sehan village claimed the lives of an upcoming leader and his beloved wife and child is an example.

The Madang Provincial Government must convene a meeting immediately or make this issue become an agenda in the next Assembly to seriously discuss and make funding available to carry out a State Of Emergency Operation in the entire Transgogol area. Police must set up posts around Mawan, Utu, Bigawa, Sehan, along the Wali and Transgogol Road line for the SOE. Ample funding must be given to track down, arrest, prosecute and after these actions, awareness must be carried out.

The locals will never come out of the village to report because once they do so, not only that person but his/her entire family will be the next target. But if the police can live among them for a prolonged period of time to hunt down every individual member of these groups to completely eradicate this killing culture, people will cooperate. All these killers are known to the community.

The Late Mr. Kawas Kori, assisted in apprehending a known killer last year. When that person escaped from custody, he returned with his henchmen and not only killed Mr. Kori but also his family. This is a classic example of what I’m talking about. The Sehan community and the entire Transgogol are further traumatized and in shock.

Can the Provincial Government convene immediately and fund an SOE? Or do we wait for more lives to be lost?

The Godawan Point is a weekly snap shot of this weeks highlights.
Tell your story: email it to info@sms511.com.
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Madang in the next 10 to 15 years

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Issue: #0319-2

Madang Governor Peter Yama has stated that Development in Madang will be booming in up coming years.  This was announced during the launching of major projects in the province that would change Madang in terms of economic development.
Major projects in Madang involving the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone has potential to provide employment for 30,000 people including Yandera mine project, Kurumbukari mine extension, Ramu Block One timber and the Airport Upgrade project.
A four lane speedway is another project associated with the Madang airport upgrade that will pass through DCA compound, Kubai junction, Govsto and Divine Word University connecting up with Modilon Road and Coronation Drive.  There is already a design in place for the road network and extension to the Madang airport will also boost tourism activities in the province.
Madang airport will undergo a major facelift at a cost of K77.5 million and with the recent commissioning of the new fire trucks in the beginning of February, it will compliment the airport upgrade project and a scope planned to cater for international flights and Boeing 737 aircrafts in the near future.
In particular, the new Madang airport will have a two-storey terminal building, improved facilities, a new security system and a bigger flight control tower among other things. It will extend to where the old Lutheran Shipping compound is and to the back of James Barns and the old Air Niugini Compound.
Project contractor HBS construction is recruiting personnel for the pavement upgrading, new terminal infrastructure and associated works in a Joint Venture with ESSAR projects; a Dubai-based engineering, procurement and construction company.
Machinery have already arrived at Madang Port on-board a Bismarck Maritime ship for the airport upgrade and according to Civil Aviation Minister, Alfred Manase, the project would take 18 months to complete.  He said separate meetings were held with the provincial government, stakeholders and landowners of areas surrounding the airport area.
Settlers on Madang Island, Ulifun, Bilia and Karanget Islands who are in the landing flight path have been advised in advance to relocate.  Settlements around the development area include DCA, Kubai and Govsto where the four lane road will pass through, were given part payments in 2018, compensating for the forced eviction exercise in December 2003. Recipients were advised to relocate to make clearance for development to take place.
Also with the expansion comes the announcement of a Police Mobile Base that will be set up at Mugil, North Coast Road and 2000 low-cost homes for average wages earners.  The homes would be constructed at potion 119c, near the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone Centre.
The onus now falls onto Madang Communities to prepare for change and embrace development in what we hear, say and do.
This is The Godawan Point in week 2. We take a look at Disaster Preparedness in Madang and an effective solution. Tell your story. email it to alerts@sms511.com.
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You can help Reduce Global Warming by managing your rubbish

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Issue: #0319-1

It goes to show that Madang Town Council has ignored the rubbish pick up sessions. This picture displays a problem. We as residents of Madang are not taking ownership of our rubbish. This pile of plastic could have been recycled or buried but apparently they who found a temporary solution to their housekeeping requirements, carelessly discarded the trash on the reef between the coast Watcher hotel and the Madang country club with the idea that the high tide will wash it away. Pencil lead brains don’t have the mental capacity to understand that all this plastic contributes to marine life destruction and adding more to the burden of trying to control GLOBAL warming.

Relevant Reading:
Scientists writing in the journal PLOS One said Wednesday that plastics emit the greenhouse gases methane and ethylene when they are exposed to sunlight and degrade.

The researchers carried out tests on such common plastic products as water bottles, shopping bags and food containers.

“Plastic represents a source of climate-relevant trace gases that is expected to increase as more plastic is produced and accumulated in the environment,” said senior researcher David Karl of the University of Hawaii.

Methane gas, both man-made and naturally occurring, is said to be a major cause of climate change.

The manufacturing and use of plastics have come under scrutiny in recent years after environmentalists discovered a massive island of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean — threatening sea life and the food supply.

Plastic drinking straws are the latest target of activists, who say they are used once and discarded because most cannot be recycled.

A graphic video of doctors pulling a plastic straw out of the bloody nose of a large sea turtle has prompted some U.S. cities and companies to phase out the straws.

The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and global warming. Global climate change is certainly one of the top environmental issues today.

You can help to reduce global warming, by controlling your plastic rubbish more wisely.

Do your part to reduce waste by choosing reusable products instead of disposables — get a reusable water bottle, for example. Buying products with minimal plastic packaging will help to reduce waste. And whenever you can, recycle paper, plastic, newspaper, glass and aluminum cans. If there isn’t a recycling program at your workplace, school, or in your community, you should get one started.  By recycling half of your household waste, you can save 10,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide every year. This means less carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

Encourage Others to Conserve – Share information about recycling and energy conservation with your friends, neighbors, and co-workers, and take opportunities to encourage public officials to establish programs and policies that are good for the environment.

This is the first of four newsletters for the month. We look at the Madang Airport upgrade next week. Stick around.

MadWatch ™

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Massive drop in Madang’s Income Tax

Issue: #0219-4

MADANG’S internal revenue reports for goods and services tax (GST) dropped by more than half – from K12 million to K5 million in 2017. This was because of the slowdown in economic activities and the drop in commodity prices.

These GST figures (Goods and Services Tax) are calculated every two years so the 2017 revenue collection was based on what was collected in 2015. Those figures would have deteriorated massively in 2018, due to the negative impact of broken bridges at Madang’s North Coast of Sumkar and Bogia, disaster relief to Manam IDP’s (Internally Displaced Person) and the civil unrest at Gum bridge in April 2018 that was sparked by a decapitated vocational teacher.

There is hope in 2019 for recovery and an optimistic year for development with the recent launching of the Usino-Yal and Baiyer-Ramu road construction links to improve Madang’s falling economy by rerouting transport and logistics from Lae and highlands into of Madang Sea Ports.

The Madang airport upgrade is sure to bring improvement to road networks and it is an opinion that the PMIZ loan will strategically fit into the scheme to encourage development out of town into the North Coast with business spin off into real-estate, tourism and increased cocoa and copra export from Bogia and Sumkar; increases in revenue in public transportation, agriculture and livestock. The possibilities are enormous but lack dedication which is missing and wasted.

That being said, it is interesting to note that there are too many unemployment factors; prisoners overcrowded at Beon CIS, street selling opportunists and vagrants emerging from settlements, villages and homes in town. It cannot be denied that a huge impact of the decreased internal revenue was the breakdown of law and order in the province in 2015 that largely contributed to the fall in our social-education system and huge numbers of school drop outs since 2012 giving increase to more sophisticated crimes like the armed robbery of K100,000 in broad daylight, right in front of the BSP branch with a clean get-away.

Our leaders need to seriously consider improving Madang schools and teacher’s welfare in regaining confidence in our education system. Malala, Tusbab and Brahman Secondary schools had a history of producing the country’s finest.

Needless to say, improvement of community Police and a complete restructure to the public service department’s human resource. Some residents strongly feel that retrenchment of public officers should be rolled out and early retirement for some to control the high expenditure of the Provincial budget on luxuries which should be focused on improving Education in Madang Province with job readiness programs into the Kurumbukari mine and Basamuk refinery for high school and university graduates. For example back in 2010, RD Fishing Ltd at Vidar, NCR, would directly employ passout students from Talidig vocational and Danip Agricultural school near Alexishafen.

As people of Madang, we have an obligation no matter where you are from. We all should give part of our life to the development of the province. If you study medicine, what are your long term goals for Madang, if you sell beer, how can you contribute responsibly, if you are a miner, what do you give back when you arrive on field break. The application is the same for primary school students and higher school dropouts. The responsibility lies within us all. What can you as an individual give back to the development of Madang Province?

This was the February edition of The Godawan Point. Stick around in March for more updates.

MadWatch ™

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The Godawan Point #219-3

PNG EMERGENCY UPDATE FROM MSW21 a MadWatch initiative. By Kane Spencer

It has been a hectic start in 2019 for MSW21 with the Manam explosion on January 22, trigering a series of earthquakes until a 6.2 M shocked New Ireland Province on February 18.

The month of February alone has been Disaster prone, with two broken links; Iguruwe landslip and the Menia Baley Bridge near Dumpu on the Madang Ramu Highway that caused a lot of dismay just after Banab bridge on the NCR was restored. Thanks to Mr. Geoffrey Dubun of JVPNG Investments and his team working on the Bailey Bridges at Banab and Menia. We also acknowledge Fisause Kennedy and the team from DOW for the swift restoration of the Culverts at Iguruwe landslip.

Highway 100 up in the highlands at Kombre, OK5, Jiwaka and Porgera are also in need of an overhaul.

DISASTER occurrences at Malaguna 3 ENB was a flash flood destroying more than 80 homes and landslides in the Finisterre mountain range. Two men are reported to have been buried alive under the pile of dirt from heavy soil erosion and islands at Finschhaven Tuam and Malai in Tewai-Siasi district are suffering from a natural phenomena that’s destroying their crops.

Tropical Cyclone Oma has transitioned into a sub-tropical low but has increased sea level and rough sea for seafarers. A warning has been issued to islanders crossing to the mainland to take caution.

This reclassification of the tropical cyclone comes after it had intensified overnight to a category 2 winds blowing at +800km/h.

It was predicted in November 2018 that up to 11 cyclones could hit the South Pacific before the end of April 2019, according to climate forecasters.

Brace yourselves for a dry season in March with weather patterns forcast to bring El Nino. 2019 may be the hottest year yet, spurred by El Nino and climate changes. It’s not a safe bet 2019 will beat 2016, but it will very likely be warmer than 2018,” Hausfather told me.’ The WMO said the chance of a full-fledged El Niño event between December 2018 and February 2019 is estimated to be about 75-80 percent, and about 60 percent for it to continue through February to April 2019. #sms511 #Emergency #Disaster #RaiKirap

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