Published: Sun, November 18, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Xi, Pence spar over trade, development issues at Apec meet

Xi, Pence spar over trade, development issues at Apec meet

Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday that the South China Sea did not belong to any one nation, and the United States would continue to sail and fly wherever global law allowed, comments sure to rile China, which claims the strategic sea route.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks Saturday at the APEC CEO Summit at the Pacific Explorer cruise ship docked in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

US President Donald Trump has placed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of Chinese goods in retaliation for what he views as unfair trades practices by Beijing.

"We've put tariffs on US$250 billion in Chinese goods and that number could more than double", he told CEOs from around the region.

Carpio said that like all other coastal states, the Philippines under UNCLOS had exclusive sovereign rights to explore and exploit the natural resources in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea, which is part of the South China Sea.

There are no plans at the moment for Trudeau to have a one-on-one meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping - although he has had opportunities to bump into his Chinese counterpart, both in the hallways of the busy summit and at a gala dinner Saturday night.

The announcement came just one day after Mr Xi's first state visit to PNG, where the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding which included a new 10-year loan.

Controversially, Mr Pence said the U.S. saw ASEAN as an "irreplaceable strategic partner".

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Mr Pence did not elaborate on USA plans for the Manus Island base or whether USA ships would be permanently stationed there.

The US says it will join Australia in developing a naval base in Papua New Guinea (PNG), in an apparent move to curb China's growing influence.

"History has shown that confrontation - whether in the form of a cold war, a hot war or a trade war - will produce no winners", he said.

Mr Pence has not said how much money the Trump administration will contribute to the project, or whether United States vessels will be permanently based at Lombrum. The US, he said, will "continue to put America first, as all the countries represented here are duty-bound to put the interests of your people first".

"As we look back over the four decades of reform and opening-up, we in China are more convinced than ever before that only through reform and opening-up can China develop itself", Xi said.

But in his speech, Pence lashed out at Chinese largesse in strong terms, mocking the Belt-and-Road initiative that sees China offering loans to poorer countries in the region to improve infrastructure. We don't coerce, corrupt, or compromise your independence.

The APEC summit of leaders from 21 countries across the region has developed into a tussle for influence between an increasingly assertive China and a more withdrawn US.

Said Pence: "China has an honoured place in our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, if it chooses to respect its neighbours' sovereignty, embrace free, fair and reciprocal trade, and uphold human rights and freedom". "The United States deals openly and fairly". The Chinese leader said that globalization with a rules-based worldwide order would protect global growth, while isolation and protectionism would cause more problems.

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