'Low-batt' APEC summit back to search for coherence

Posted November 21, 2018

The summit failed to issue a closing communique after the U.S. and Beijing furiously disagreed over the wording of trade issues, leaving a cloud of uncertainty and bitterness, and strained relations in our own backyard.

"Let them fight it out.those are the issues that concern them", Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi told news agency Reuters in an interview in Port Moresby.

He indicated that a chair's statement may be issued instead.

Mr Pato also expressed caution on whether the redeveloped Manus Island naval base - which the USA has announced it will help with alongside Australia - will eventually be used as a major strategic hub to project military power into the Pacific Ocean where China is increasingly flexing its muscle.

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

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

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

Asked about these remarks, Mr Pato said: "Our own position is that we welcome every partner of PNG who would like to contribute to our national development aspirations".

"History has shown that confrontation, whether in the form of a cold war, a hot war or a trade war, will produce no winners", Xi said in his speech in Port Moresby.

Pence continued his tirade against Beijing by refuting the ongoing trade war and threatened to double tariffs.

"The commitment of the United States of America to this region of the world has never been stronger", said Pence at a signing ceremony. The tariffs on $200 billion of those goods are set to increase to 25% from 10% on January 1, which would further escalate the conflict.

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Neither Pence nor Morrison, though, matched China's rhetoric on climate change, a major security issue for Pacific islands where rising sea levels are forcing people to move to live on higher ground.

Pence also knocked China for loans to developing countries in the Pacific and beyond. Projects they support are often unsustainable and of poor quality. Trump has reportedly sidelined some of his most aggressively anti-China team members, with Peter Navarro, an uber-protectionist trade adviser, among those given a back seat.

"With the Philippines assuming the role Country Coordinator for ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, the President delivered the ASEAN-China Common Statement", Malacañang said in a statement.

Xi pledged that China will stay deeply engaged in the Asia-Pacific cooperation process, deepen practical cooperation with other parties involved, and make new contribution to the development and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.

"For us, we welcome Chinese investment, we welcome USA investment".

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The most significant sign that the United States and China may actually come to some agreement came last week after reports surfaced that Beijing sent a letter to the Trump administration outlining possible concessions.

The U.S. military commander in the Pacific, speaking at a conference in Canada, accused China's military of "a sustained campaign to intimidate other nations in the East and South China Seas" by fortifying manmade islands.

Davidson said the islands and the armaments on them give Beijing "the potential to exert national control over global waters and airspace through which over $3 trillion in goods travel every year, along with commercial air traffic".

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up initiative, Xi said, adding that his country will pursue with resolve continued reform across the board.

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