APEC summit ends without joint statement amid US-China tensions

Gladys Abbott
November 20, 2018

Zhang Shaogang, director-general of China's global department at the Ministry of Commerce, said that Papua New Guinea, which hosted the summit, will issue a 'chairman's statement, ' cited by Reuters.

The 21 nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby struggled to bridge differences on the role of the World Trade Organization, which governs worldwide trade.

When Chinese diplomats turned up unannounced to persuade Papua New Guinea's foreign minister to back their wording, things turned ugly.

"If we do not do that, we will just become a colony of China", the leader of the People's Movement for Change political party told SCMP.

Pointing to the "two big giants in the room", the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation's (APEC) chair, Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, informed Sunday's closing news conference that the expected Leaders' Declaration would not be issued.

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.

China, meanwhile, wanted a reaffirmation of opposition to protectionism and unilateralism that it says the U.S.is engaging in.

US Vice President Mike Pence - who attended on US President Donald Trump's behalf - later retaliated saying he was prepared to "more than double" the tariffs imposed on Chinese goods. Yet the trade war has raised the prospect that nations will now need to pick sides, particularly as higher USA tariffs threaten to alter long-established supply chains. "Those prevented there being a full consensus on the communique".

"Not a single developing country has been mired in debt difficulties because of its cooperation with China".

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Chinese leader Xi Jinping has urged the world to pursue free trade policies. 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.

"There are differences today", Mr Pence said.

After the meeting, Pence told reporters Washington and Beijing have differences ranging from trade practices to forced technology transfers. "It goes beyond that to freedom of navigation in the seas, concerns about human rights", Pence told reporters.

Prior to Pence's comments, China's Xi Jinping lashed out at USA protectionism, labeling the U.S. approach as "short-sighted" and was "doomed to failure".

China's former chief trade negotiator has hit out at Beijing over its approach to the United States trade war, saying it's not thinking "deeply enough" about it.

China's foreign ministry rejected the U.S. criticism that it was leading other developing nations into debt bondage.

According to the Associated Press, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said after the meeting, "I don't think it will come as a huge surprise that there are differing visions" on trade.

No-one was known to be hurt, Kakas said, adding that he did not yet know how many police and soldiers were involved in the incident in the nation's capital Port Moresby. The U.S. also joined with Australia to redevelop a naval base, and held a meeting of "the Quad" - a grouping that also includes India and Japan - in a bid to balance China's rising economic and military strength. Less than 20 percent have a reliable electricity supply.

Pence said in his speech that "we have great respect for President Xi and China, but as we all know, China has taken advantage of the United States for many, many years and those days are over".

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