Pacific News Minute

AP Photo/Safwan Ashari Raharusun

The Jakarta Post reports that Indonesian President Joko Widodo will visit restive West Papua next week after violent protests there on Monday. Demonstrations erupted on news that Papuan students in Java had been subjected to racial abuse and arrest over the weekend.

G20 Argentina / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

After marathon negotiations late last week, Australia succeeded in watering down references to climate change in the final communique of the summit of the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu. But the victory came at a price.

Jason Oxenham/Pool Photo via AP

Radio New Zealand reports that Australia has persuaded members of the Pacific Islands Forum to water down references to climate change in the summit meetings final communique. The phrase “climate crisis” has been removed, along with a commitment to phase out coal. While climate change dominated the meeting, other issues came up as well.

G20 Argentina / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

As expected, climate change has taken center stage as the annual summit of the Pacific Islands Forum gets underway in Tuvalu. Ahead of the meeting, Australia pledged 340 million dollars to fund climate resistance projects but flatly rejected calls to phase out coal, reform its climate policies and resume payments to the UN’s Green Climate Fund.

Photo: Lachlan Fearnley / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

In the run-up to next week’s summit of the Pacific Islands Forum, small island states have made it clear that they intend to pressure Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on climate change.

Staff Sgt. B. Nicole Mejia / U.S. Army

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are both visiting American allies in the Pacific. For Esper, it’s his first foreign trip since being confirmed as Secretary of Defense.

Coverly / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Last week, a court in South Korea sentenced the leader of a religious cult to six years in prison for the barbaric treatment of 400 followers who relocated to Fiji. But so far, the case has had no effect on the cult’s operations in Fiji.

Nightstallion / CC0 1.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Later this month, leaders from across the Pacific will gather in Tuvalu for the 50th annual summit of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Charlie Brewer / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

Near Aukland airport, on the Northern Island of New Zealand, Maori protesters are blocking access to a construction site to protect what they regard as sacred land. The stand-off bears some similarities to the confrontation at Mauna Kea.

Daderot / Wikimedia Commons

The United States continues to conduct naval patrols in waters claimed by China. Last week, the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam sailed through the Taiwan Strait: the sixth such transit this year. The operation came as China issued an important policy document.

DIBP images / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

Australia and Papua New Guinea have agreed to close the notorious detention camp on Manus Island. At a joint news conference, PNG’s James Marape and Australia’s Scott Morrison said they would establish a mutually workable timetable.

Staff Sgt. Chelsea Browning / U.S. Air Force

Obesity is a major problem around the Asia Pacific, contributing to diseases like diabetes. In Fiji, diabetes related amputations account for 40% of all surgeries. On average, that’s three every day.

Romain Pontida / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

You may have seen pictures of a long line of climbers on Mount Everest earlier this year; now a similar scene is unfolding at much lower altitude, in Central Australia, where tourists are crowding in to climb Uluru before the iconic monolith closes.

Open Clip Art / CC0 1.0 / Wikimedia Commons

This month, celebrations are underway in Tonga to mark the birthday of the King, including the 40th annual Heilala Festival. But this year’s ceremony erupted as the outgoing queen criticized organizers for tormenting and bullying her.

Nightstallion / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

A cycle of ambush and revenge is being blamed for the deaths of as many as 25 people in the central highlands of Papua New Guinea. The massacres occurred in the district represented in parliament by Papua New Guinea’s new prime minister, James Marape, who vowed to hunt down the killers.

Spc. Christen Best / U.S. Army

Already strained relations between Washington and Beijing are about to hit a rough patch, Amid the on-going trade war, the Pentagon announced a $2.2 billion arms sale to Taiwan, and an even bigger weapons deal is expected later this summer.

User:Rcbutcher / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Richmond, Virginia, once the capital of the confederacy, recently renamed a street in honor of African-American tennis star, and Richmond native, Arthur Ashe. The gesture was a response to the movement to remove statues of Confederate generals and politicians. Statues are also controversial in another part of the world . . . Australia.

Pumbaa80 / Wikimedia Commons

This week, the political organization leading the fight for independence in West Papua announced that three rebel groups have agreed to join forces as a united West Papua Army. But one of those groups disputes the claim.

Studio Incendo / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

The wave of protest in Hong Kong has made headlines around the world, but it may be followed most closely in Taiwan. As recently as January, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed reunification with Taiwan under the same “One Country, Two Systems” framework now unraveling in Hong Kong.

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service / CC-BY-SA-3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Amid ceremony and fanfare, commercial whaling ships left Japanese ports yesterday for the first time in 33 years.

Mr.choppers / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Seven months after Papua New Guinea hosted the APEC summit, it has yet to sell off a fleet of Maseratis and Bentleys it purchased to provide VIP transportation. Initially, government officials promised that the cars would sell “like hotcakes.” 

Jérôme Gallecier / CC BY-SA 2.5 / Wikimedia Commons

France’s highest court has rejected an appeal filed by the former President of French Polynesia and 12 others in the so-called phantom jobs scandal.  The defendants have been ordered to repay 4.2 million dollars.

Kimdime / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

The United Liberation Movement of West Papua has again applied for full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group. The ULM hopes that new leadership in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea may improve its chances.

Craig Nagy / Flickr

While trade will top the agenda when President Trump meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Japan next week, there are human rights issues as well. Not only the so-called “re-education camps” that house an estimated million Muslim Uighers but this week’s report from an independent panel in Britain on harvesting organs from prisoners.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation via AP

In four months, the people of Bougainville will vote in a referendum that gives them a choice of independence or greater autonomy within Papua New Guinea. While there’s been no polling, analysts expect overwhelming approval for independence. But the world’s newest nation would face serious problems.

GeorgeLouis / Wikimedia Commons

A caretaker government remains in charge of the French overseas territory of New Caledonia after a new council failed to agree on who should be president. There are new problems and new players, but one overriding old problem: sovereignty.

Nzeemin / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Another incident in the South China Sea. Yesterday, the Philippines Secretary of Defense said that a Chinese fishing vessel rammed and sank a Philippine boat, and then left 22 crewmen to “the mercy of the elements,” as he put it.

Roman Harak / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

A new book and the Wall Street Journal independently report that Kim Jong Nam was a CIA informant. The half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was assassinated in Malaysia two years ago.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation via AP

James Marape, the new prime minster of Papua New Guinea, has placed leading members of the opposition  into key positions in his cabinet. The appointments suggest that the new administration may be serious about reform.

U.S. Navy

While all eyes focus on the coast of France on this 75th Anniversary of D-Day, we sometimes overlook events on the other side of the world. That same day, June 6, 1944, a huge attack force cleared Pearl Harbor on its way to invade Japanese positions in the Mariana Islands.

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