The US government will work alongside regional partners Japan and Australia to offer a “counter offer” to Papua New Guinea aimed at stopping the construction of a major internet infrastructure project by Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, the Financial Times reports.
“It’s not to say ‘don’t do business with China,’” said James Caruso, a US diplomat based in Australia. “China offers are on the table – it’s up to us to be competitive.”
Huawei and Papua New Guinea’s flag carrier Telikom PNG signed a $200 million deal in 2013 to build a nationwide, high-speed broadband network. In August, it was reported that the project would be funded by China’s Export Import Bank.
Beijing has recently upped its presence in the South Pacific as a means of building economic and political ties in the relatively under-invested region. China has already provided $6 billion to South Pacific nations over the past seven years, with PNG the largest recipient.
Huawei, however, has experienced increasing pushback from countries such as Australia and the US, to whom it represents expanding Chinese influence in a sensitive sector. Last month Canberra voted to ban Huawei from building a 5G network in the country.