Japan airs concern after U.S.-China feud causes APEC disarray

Nov 21, 2018, 00:33
Japan airs concern after U.S.-China feud causes APEC disarray

The back-and-forth on a cruise ship docked in Port Moresby, the capital, suggested the world's biggest economies remained far from a deal to end a damaging trade war even after President Donald Trump said he was optimistic about a resolution.

"They seemed to think that the "unfair trade practices" was some kind of singling out", the official contended.

While noting that China has great power and wealth, Juffa said Papua New Guinea can choose to develop and modernise at its own pace to maintain its position as an independent nation.

But the situation quickly escalated when Chinese diplomats turned up uninvited to meet Papua New Guinea's foreign minister, Rimbink Pato, to demand his support.

Over the weekend, Vice President Mike Pence joined a group of western nations in pledging to provide electricity to the host of the summit - Papua New Guinea. Chinese officials denied the report, which said police had to be called.

China's President Xi Jinping speaks during the APEC CEO Summit 2018 in Port Moresby Papua New Guinea on Saturday
China's President Xi Jinping speaks during the APEC CEO Summit 2018 in Port Moresby Papua New Guinea on Saturday

In a meeting that could irritate Beijing, Pence had talks with Taiwan's envoy to APEC, Morris Chang.

Instead, Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O'Neill - who is the chair - will issue a chairman's statement. The US wants to limit Chinese influence elsewhere.

Mr Pence had stated that the USA will not lift tariffs until "China changes its ways".

The Chinese president arrived here Thursday to pay a state visit to PNG and attend the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. "The United States, though, will not change course until China changes its ways".

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

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The mood among APEC members is apparently turning sour on China and its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, which finally has serious competition from the U.S. -Japan-Australia partnership.

There have been concerns that small countries that sign up for infrastructure projects will be left with debt burdens they can not service, something Pence highlighted. Too often, they come with strings attached and lead to staggering debt.

Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province of "one China", ineligible for state-to-state relations, and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. "Presume good faith and good intentions on the other party, and work out practical solutions to those problems", he said, calling it a "chicken and egg problem" that requires a level of trust for both sides to start to resolve.

On Saturday, Pence warned that Trump could still put more tariffs on China.

PNG will instead issue a "chairman's statement", said Zhang Shaogang, director-general of China's global department at the Ministry of Commerce. "On the contrary, their cooperation with China has helped them enhance their capacity for self-driven development and improved their people's livelihood", Hua said about Pence's allegations on loans.

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This prompted a statement from Acting Chief Justice Chief Justice that "Factually, China is not in possession of the South China Sea". Dozens of worldwide journalists invited to the forum by Papua New Guinea were turned away at the door by the Chinese, including reporters from Papua New Guinea itself.

China is now the second-biggest aid donor to the region behind Australia, rising from almost nothing a decade ago.

Pence professed respect for Xi and China but also harshly criticised the world's number 2 economy for intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and unfair trading practices. "It goes beyond that to freedom of navigation in the seas, concerns about human rights". Angry reporters turned away from a PNG conference facility that was essentially annexed by China might be inclined to agree with his assessment.

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