APEC fails to reach consensus as U.S.-China divide dominates

Pence-Xi showdown at APEC shows US-China divide only widening

China says no developing country will fall into ‘debt trap’ by cooperating with Beijing

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Bandar Seri Begawan for a state visit to Brunei on November 18, 2018.

Elsewhere in the Sino region, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) wrapped up its latest forum held in Papua New Guinea late on Friday, and a lack of consensus amongst the Pacific leaders sees APEC failing to ratify and complete a leadership communique as members failed to come to a group agreement on future progress on multilateral trade terms, and Zhang Shaogang, the director-general of the worldwide division of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce stated that a "chairman's statement" will instead be issued by Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato.

A statement will later be issued by the meeting's chairman, Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.

"That is what we need to do here", Juffa was quoted as telling Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post (SCMP).

It marks the first time in Apec's 29-year history that its members have not been able to agree.

Draft versions of the communique showed the United States wanted strong language against unfair trade practices that it accuses China of.

Pence spoke of the decisive action taken to address the trade imbalance with China, imposing tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports.

During the summit, the U.S. said it would join Australia in developing a naval base in Papua New Guinea (PNG), in an apparent move to curb China's growing influence.

Pence professed respect for Xi and China but also harshly criticized the world's No. 2 economy for intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and unfair trading practices.

The guidelines are viewed as a veiled counter to China, as countries such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan are now struggling to repay massive loans received as "aid" under the infrastructure initiative aimed at connecting nations along the ancient Silk Road. 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. "Those matters can be raised at the World Trade Organisation".

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The feisty barbs on a gleaming white cruise ship moored in Port Moresby come ahead of a meeting between Xi and the United States president, Donald Trump, at the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of November. They had clashed over security, trade and development. "It goes beyond that to freedom of navigation in the seas, concerns about human rights", Pence told reporters.

Mr Xi also lashed out at "America First" trade protectionism, saying it was a "short-sighted approach" that was "doomed to failure".

However, with the rise of protectionism and with the increasing risks of "tariff wars" between the bloc's members - the US, China and Canada, adopting initiatives such as the FTAAP may take quite a long time.

Chinese foreign ministry official Zhang Xiaolong denied the incident, telling reporters: "It's not true".

Al Jazeera's Andrew Thomas, reporting from Port Moresby, said the lack of a communique marked a dramatic end to the summit.

"Police were posted outside the minister's office after they tried to barge in", one source privy to summit negotiations said.

During his trip to China last month - the first official visit to the country by a Japanese leader in almost seven years - he agreed with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to create a new framework to jointly move ahead with infrastructure projects in third countries.

The minister himself sought to downplay the incident, telling AFP: "There wasn't an issue".

Accidentally or on objective, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha appeared to photobomb US Vice-President Mike Pence when photographers called on leaders to wave at their cameras.

He further proposed that Apec express solidarity in supporting multilateral trade that respects World Trade Organisation rules and regulations, because it is crucial to the creation of a fair global environment.

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