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Bougainville votes for independence from Papua New Guinea

China to step up its approach to South Pacific island if independence is granted

SYDNEY -- Voters in Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, overwhelmingly voted for independence from the southwestern Pacific country, according to the results of a referendum released on Wednesday.

The referendum asked whether Bougainville should have greater autonomy or independence. It was held from Nov. 23 to Saturday, with 181,000 of some 200,000 voters casting ballots. According to the results, 97.7% of them voted for independence.

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