One day after vice president Mike Pence and China’s president Xi Jinping clashed after exchanging sharply worded barbs in a showdown between the two superpowers, on Sunday the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit ended in unprecedented chaos and disarray, without agreement on a joint communique for the first time in its history as the escalating rivalry between the United States and China dominated proceedings and reflected escalating trade tensions.
Competition between the United States and China over the Pacific was also thrown into focus with the United States and its Western allies launching a coordinated response to China’s Belt and Road program, Reuters added.
One diplomat told Reuters tension between the U.S. and China, bubbling all week, erupted when the Chinese government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, objected during a leaders’ retreat to two paragraphs in a draft document seen by Reuters. One mentioned opposing “unfair trade practices” and reforming the WTO, while another concerned sustainable development.
“These two countries were pushing each other so much that the chair couldn’t see an option to bridge them,” said the unnamed diplomat. “China was angered that the reference to WTO blamed a country for unfair trade practices.”
Sunday’s dramatic conclusion was foreshadowed by accusations that Chinese officials had attempted to strong-arm officials in Papua New Guinea, which was hosting the event, into issuing a statement that fitted what Beijing wanted. The Chinese vigorously denied the claims. When asked about the impasse, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was quoted by the South China Morning Postsaying: “You know the two big giants in the room, so what can I say?”
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