PORT MORESBY – The United States and China swapped barbs over trade, investment and regional security at an Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit on Saturday, as growing fault lines among members suggested little prospect of consensus at the weekend meeting.
Speaking in the Papua New Guinean capital, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said there would be no end to American tariffs until China changed its ways, after its president, Xi Jinping, warned that the shadow of protectionism and unilateralism was hanging over global growth.
Illustrating the impasse between the world’s two largest economies, a diplomat involved in negotiating an APEC leaders’ declaration told Reuters trade was a sticking point, and the host nation was having trouble finding language acceptable to all.
Pence took direct aim at Xi’s flagship Belt and Road program, which China has been promoting to Pacific nations at APEC, saying countries should not accept debt that compromised their sovereignty.
“We do not offer constricting belt or a one-way road,” Pence told the APEC CEO summit, a precursor to the official leaders’ meeting, held on a cruise liner tethered in Port Moresby’s Fairfax Harbour.
China’s efforts to win friends in the resource-rich Pacific have been watched warily by the traditionally influential powers in the region – Australia and the United States.
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