Police called after Chinese bully host at Pacific summit

Pauline Gross
November 19, 2018

Asia-Pacific leaders failed to agree on a communique at a summit in Papua New Guinea on Sunday for the first time in their history as deep divisions between the United States and China over trade and investment stymied cooperation.

The focus of the two-day regional economic summit in the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby was whether the 21-member economies could reach consensus over how to combat the creeping protectionist tendencies among certain APEC members.

China wouldn't agree to that language, believing it amounted to a "singling out" of Chinese trade practices, the US official said.

The contest between the United States and China for leadership in the region has raised questions about the Asia-Pacific region's future development and the Apec forum's ability to promote economic integration.

'Damaging' "By withdrawing from multilateral trade agreements and pursuing unilateral tit-for-tat tariffs that are damaging not just for the U.S. and China, but for the broader regional and global trading system, the Trump administration is putting itself at odds with America's Asian allies and partners", he said.

The US has already imposed tariffs on US$250 billion of goods and Trump has threatened to extend the tariffs to all Chinese imports - a warning that Pence reiterated on Saturday.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison used his speech at APEC to strongly criticize the US-China trade war while inviting other nations to participate in a revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Leaders from 21 Asia-Pacific nations failed Sunday to bridge gaping divisions at a summit overshadowed by a war of words over the USA and China as they vie for influence in the region.

Mr Pence said he respected Mr Xi and China but criticised the world's second largest economy for intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and unfair trading practices. He accused China of luring developing nations into a debt trap through the loans it offers for infrastructure.

The world, according to Xi, is facing a choice between cooperation and confrontation as protectionism and unilateralism grows. He said the rules of global institutions set up after World War II such as the World Trade Organization should not be bent for selfish agendas.

APEC leaders divided after US, China spat

Pence told reporters that during the weekend he had two "candid" conversations with Xi, who is expected to meet President Donald Trump at a Group of 20 summit at the end of this month in Buenos Aires.

"There are differences today", Pence said. They had clashed over security, trade and development. "It goes beyond that to freedom of navigation in the seas, concerns about human rights".

Mr Xi also lashed out at "America First" trade protectionism, saying it was a "short-sighted approach" that was "doomed to failure".

"The assistance provided by China has been warmly welcomed by our partners in this region and beyond", Wang Xiaolong, a foreign ministry official, told a news conference.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 27 years ago, the two countries have been treating each other as equals, and scored deepening political mutual trust and fruitful results in various cooperations, which brought tangible benefits to the two peoples and made positive contributions to peace and prosperity in the region, said Xi.

The two-day gathering in Papua New Guinea was nearly five years in the making, cost untold millions of dollars and required the deployment of at least one battleship and three cruise liners.

Pence said the United States would join Australia to help PNG build a navy base on its Manus Island, which was a USA base in World War II, after China had emerged as a possible developer of the deep-water port. The U.S. has also said it will be involved in ally Australia's plan to develop a naval base with Papua New Guinea.

Australia is Papua New Guinea's largest foreign donor, so Canberra chose to step up its efforts in countering Beijing's growing influence.

The project aims to raise the percentage of the PNG population with access to electricity from 13 per cent to 70 per cent. A separate statement from his office said other countries are welcome to join the electrification initiative provided they support the USA vision of a free and open Pacific.

China wants to build and maintain political influence in Papua New Guinea, Washington and Canberra wouldn't want to miss their slice of the pie either.

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