The World of China Inc.

Kemal Jufri / Imaji for TIME

Market forces Chinese workers for the Ramu nickel refinery being built at Papua New Guinea's Basamuk Bay shop for snacks from local villagers

Lunch at the site of the future Ramu nickel and cobalt mine in the remote hills of Papua New Guinea is a hurried affair, food shoveled into eager mouths. But the menu is as divided as the two distinct groups of workers squatting in the heat, swatting away flies and filling their bellies before their nine-hour, seven-day-a-week shifts begin again. In one huddle are local laborers chewing chunks of sweet potato and the canned fish known in pidgin dialect as tinpis. In another clump are imported workers from China who dig into rice topped with pork belly and chili...