Pacific summit ends with no communique as China, U.S. differ



Vice President Mike Pence speaks to the media while standing next to a traditional mask display, at the end of meetings at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit on Sunday.SAEED KHAN / AFP – Getty Images 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 U.S. has this year imposed additional tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods and Beijing has retaliated with its own tariffs on U.S. products.The world, according to Xi’s speech, is facing a choice between cooperation and confrontation as protectionism and unilateralism grows. He said the rules of global institutions set up after World War II such as the World Trade Organisation should not be bent for selfish agendas.Pence told reporters that during the weekend he had two “candid” conversations with Xi, who is expected to meet President Donald Trump at a Group of 20 summit at the end of this month in Buenos Aires.”There are differences today. They begin with trade practices, with tariffs and quotas, forced technology transfers, the theft of intellectual property. It goes beyond that to freedom of navigation in the seas, concerns about human rights,” Pence said.The U.S. is interested in a better relationship “but there has to be change” from China’s side, Pence said he told Xi, who responded that dialogue is important.China’s foreign ministry rejected the U.S. criticism that it was leading other developing nations into debt bondage.”The assistance provided by China has been warmly welcomed by our partners in this region and beyond,” Wang Xiaolong, a foreign ministry official, told a news conference.”No country either in this region or in other regions has fallen into a so called debt trap because of its cooperation with China. Give me one example,” he said.In Port Moresby, the impact of China’s aid and loans is highly visible. But the U.S. and allies are countering with efforts to finance infrastructure in Papua New Guinea and other island states. The U.S. has also said it will be involved in ally Australia’s plan to develop a naval base with Papua New Guinea.On Sunday, the U.S., New Zealand, Japan and Australia said they’d work with Papua New Guinea’s government to bring electricity to 70 percent of its people by 2030. Less than 20 percent have a reliable electricity supply.”The commitment of the United States of America to this region of the world has never been stronger,” Pence said at a signing ceremony. A separate statement from his office said other countries are welcome to join the electrification initiative provided they support the U.S. vision of a free and open Pacific.China, meanwhile, has promised $4 billion of finance to build the the first national road network in Papua New Guinea, among the least urbanized countries in the world.MORE FROM news