Acrimonious Pacific summit underscores China-US tensions

Acrimonious Pacific summit underscores China-US tensions
From left, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence shake hands during the Leaders Electrification Project meeting as part of the APEC 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. In a statement issued to media, Papua New Guinea has invited Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States to work together to support its enhanced connectivity and the goal of connecting 70% of its population to electricity by 2030. Currently only about 13% of Papua New Guinea's population have reliable access to electricity. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) (Aaron Favila)

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) — Pacific Rim leaders at a key Asian summit failed to reach agreement on a joint declaration on world trade for the first time in nearly three decades, highlighting the growing tensions between China and the U.S.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit's acrimony also underscored the rivalry between China and the West for influence in the South Pacific, where Beijing has been wooing impoverished island states with aid and loans.

The 21 APEC nations, which account for 60 percent of the world economy, struggled at the two-day summit in Papua New Guinea to bridge their differences over the role of the World Trade Organization, which governs international trade, officials said.

Instead, a statement was issued by the meeting's chair, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.

"The entire world is worried" about tensions between China and the U.S., O'Neill told reporters surrounding him after the meetings ended Sunday, when he confirmed there was no joint declaration from the leaders.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during an informal press conference at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during an informal press conference at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) (AP)

Draft versions of the declaration seen by The Associated Press showed the U.S wanted strong language against unfair trade practices that it accuses China of conducting. China wanted a reaffirmation of opposition to protectionism and unilateralism that it says the U.S. is engaging in.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping arrive for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) informal dialogue session at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping arrive for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) informal dialogue session at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) (AP)

The U.S. has imposed additional tariffs of $250 billion on Chinese goods this year, and Beijing has retaliated with its own tariffs on U.S. products.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during an informal press conference at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during an informal press conference at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) (AP)

"I don't think it will come as a huge surprise that there are differing visions" on trade, said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "Those prevented there from being a full consensus on the communique."

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill is escorted by security as he is chased by reporters after reading his statement at the end of the APEC 2018 summit at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill is escorted by security as he is chased by reporters after reading his statement at the end of the APEC 2018 summit at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) (AP)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping traded barbs in speeches on Saturday.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau smiles after attending the APEC 2018 Economic Leaders Meeting at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau smiles after attending the APEC 2018 Economic Leaders Meeting at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) (AP)

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. He accused China of luring developing nations into a debt trap through the loans it offers for infrastructure.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, gestures beside Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill during the Leaders Electrification Project meeting as part of the APEC 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. In a statement issued to media, Papua New Guinea has invited Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States to work together to support its enhanced connectivity and the goal of connecting 70% of its population to electricity by 2030. Currently only about 13% of Papua New Guinea's population have reliable access to electricity. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, gestures beside Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill during the Leaders Electrification Project meeting as part of the APEC 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. In a statement issued to media, Papua New Guinea has invited Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States to work together to support its enhanced connectivity and the goal of connecting 70% of its population to electricity by 2030. Currently only about 13% of Papua New Guinea's population have reliable access to electricity. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) (AP)

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 Organization should not be bent for selfish agendas.

Chinese President Xi Jinping listens during the IMF informal dialogue on the State of the Regional & Global Economy as part of APEC meet activities at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Chinese President Xi Jinping listens during the IMF informal dialogue on the State of the Regional & Global Economy as part of APEC meet activities at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) (AP)

Pence told reporters that 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 Argentina.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, talks beside New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during the Leaders Electrification Project meeting as part of the APEC 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. In a statement issued to media, Papua New Guinea has invited Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States to work together to support its enhanced connectivity and the goal of connecting 70% of its population to electricity by 2030. Currently only about 13% of Papua New Guinea's population have reliable access to electricity. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, talks beside New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during the Leaders Electrification Project meeting as part of the APEC 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. In a statement issued to media, Papua New Guinea has invited Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States to work together to support its enhanced connectivity and the goal of connecting 70% of its population to electricity by 2030. Currently only about 13% of Papua New Guinea's population have reliable access to electricity. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) (AP)

"There are differences today," Pence said. "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."

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte attends an International Monetary Fund (IMF) informal dialogue session at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte attends an International Monetary Fund (IMF) informal dialogue session at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) (AP)

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.

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, help Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, center, during the family photo at the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, help Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, center, during the family photo at the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) (AP)

China's Foreign Ministry rejected the U.S. criticism that it was leading other developing nations into debt bondage.

From left, Mexico's Undersecretary of Foreign Trade Juan Carlos Baker Pineda, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Peru Foreign Affairs Minister Nestor Popolizio, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill wave during the family photo arrival at the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
From left, Mexico's Undersecretary of Foreign Trade Juan Carlos Baker Pineda, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Peru Foreign Affairs Minister Nestor Popolizio, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill wave during the family photo arrival at the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) (AP)

"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.

From left, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Vietnam President Nguyen Phu Trong wave during the family photo at the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
From left, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Vietnam President Nguyen Phu Trong wave during the family photo at the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) (AP)

"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.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, passes a proclamation to Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, left, as New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern watches during a signing ceremony for the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, passes a proclamation to Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, left, as New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern watches during a signing ceremony for the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) (AP)

China is a relative newcomer to providing aid, and its loan-heavy, no-strings attached approach has unsettled Western nations that have been the mainstay donors to developing nations and often use aid to nudge nations toward reforms.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a signing ceremony for the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a signing ceremony for the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) (AP)

In Port Moresby, the impact of China's aid and loans is highly visible. But the U.S. and its 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 an Australian plan to develop a naval base with Papua New Guinea.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, speaks as Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens during a signing ceremony for the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, speaks as Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens during a signing ceremony for the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) (AP)

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 financing to build the first national road network in Papua New Guinea, among the world's least urbanized countries.