APEC Fails To Reach Consensus As U.S.-China Divide Deepens

Irving Hamilton
November 20, 2018

Draft versions of the communique seen by The Associated Press showed the U.S wanted strong language against unfair trade practices that it accuses China of.

China is a relative newcomer to providing aid, and its no-strings attached approach has unsettled Western nations that have been the mainstay donors to developing nations and often use aid to nudge nations towards reforms.

With both Washington and Beiing unyielding, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders failed to agree on a communique for the first time in the forum's history.

He urged nations instead to stick with the U.S., which doesn't "drown our partners in a sea of debt" or "coerce, corrupt or compromise your independence".

Mr O'Neill said "the entire world is worried" about tensions between China and the US.

"So the negotiations fell in a heap and the chair [Papua New Guinea] gave up". "The United States, though, will not change course until China changes its ways".

Elsewhere on the Brexit docket, the EU's lead Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, floated the idea over the weekend of pushing out the final Brexit date to December of 2022 with the United Kingdom spinning its wheels in the dirt and making little progress, a move that would surely draw even further anger from pro-leavers within the Tories' Brexiteer ranks.

Tonga, on the other hand, signed up to the Belt and Road and won deferment on a Chinese loan, a Tongan official said.

The director general of China's Department of International Economic Affairs, Wang Xiaolong, played down the divisions, only saying there were "discussions" about trade issues at APEC. However, he was quick to point out that this was outside of APEC's remit. The vice president said the US doesn't "drown our partners in a sea of debt" or "offer a constricting belt or a one-way road".

"At the end of the day what happens to the WTO has to be decided by the full WTO membership."

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"We need to look at what Mahathir is doing, he has been very concerned about the future and sovereignty of Malaysia, he doesn't want the country to be a colony of China".

He accused China of luring developing nations into a debt trap through the loans it offers for infrastructure. 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.

They include extra scholarships for Pacific students to study in Australia, and a "Pacific Australia Card" to make it easier for politicians, business and sports people to visit.

For the moment, that day still looks a ways off. Papua New Guinea, an economy smaller than all 50 US states that hosted the APEC summit, signed deals in excess of $1 billion with both China and a USA -led bloc.

The US, New Zealand, Japan and Australia said they would work with Papua New Guinea's government to bring electricity to 70% of its people by 2030.

US Vice President Mike Pence traded sharp barbs with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in back-to-back speeches at a regional summit, showing that neither country appears to be giving ground in an escalating trade war.

Citing data from China Global Investment Tracker, SCMP said China's investment in Papua New Guinea, especially for projects such as the construction of roads and ports, has gone up from US$860 million in 2016 to US$2.46 billion in 2017.

"Mankind has once again reached a crossroads", he said.

"Which direction should we choose?" Xi proposed focusing on openness, development, inclusiveness, innovation and a rules-based approach, strengthening worldwide cooperation, improving global economic governance and handling common challenges, Wang said.

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