PNG police, soldiers storm parliament over unpaid APEC bonuses

Commentary                | 15 November 2018                        Australia versus China in the South Pacific

The unusually rumbustious Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit that shuddered to an ill-tempered halt at the weekend proved one thing beyond any doubt: the USA and China are intent on doing to the Indo-Pacific region in the 21st century what the U.S. and the Soviet Union did to Europe in the last.

A summit of world leaders ended in acrimony Sunday with the host nation accusing Chinese officials of threatening behavior and differences between the us and China preventing delegates from reaching a consensus on trade, security and investment.

"The entire world is worried" about tensions between China and the US, O'Neill told a mob of reporters that surrounded him after he confirmed there was no communique from leaders.

As in the beginning, APEC could be engaged again in an acute search for coherence.

A security official stands guard outside a perimeter fence for a secured area ahead of the APEC Economic Leaders' Week Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

"APEC has got no charter over World Trade Organization, that is a fact".

He said: "You know the two big giants in the room".

However, he was quick to point out that this was outside of APEC's remit.

Speaking in the PNG capital of Port Moresby on Saturday, US Vice-President Mike Pence said the US would not change its course with China, warning that the US could "more than double" the tariffs already placed on $250 billion of Chinese goods.

On Saturday, both Pence and Xi made speeches aimed at discrediting each other, and calling into question their motives in the region.

Apparently China objected to a reference in the text to "unfair trade practices".

Netanyahu says new elections would be 'irresponsible'
The crisis was set into motion with Lieberman's resignation over the ceasefire, which he labelled "capitulating to terror". The security of the nation is beyond politics, and the security of the nation is also beyond personal considerations".

The world, according to Xi's speech, is facing a choice between cooperation and confrontation as protectionism and unilateralism grows. He said a trade war would produce "no winners".

APEC ended in a troubling, but somewhat fitting way.

Gary Juffa, governor of Papua New Guinea's Oro province, noted that Dr Mahathir had scraped China-linked projects worth hundreds of billions of ringgit by citing affordability issues.

These loans, and rising indebtedness in the Pacific, have been an increasing concern over the past year, with the conflict between the two superpowers an overarching theme of APEC, as well as the ASEAN and the East Asia Summit in Singapore earlier in the week.

"As the tension with USA has risen, China's approach to its neighboring countries has changed, " said Shi Yinhong, an worldwide relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing.

Pence said on Saturday the U.S. would partner with Papua New Guinea and Australia in redeveloping the Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island.

The US, New Zealand, Japan and Australia said they would work with Papua New Guinea's government to bring electricity to 70% of its people by 2030.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Papua New Guinea's biggest aid donors are now China and Australia.

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.

America had insisted that the statement from the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation gathering should say that China no longer could be treated as a developing nation under World Trade Organisation rules, a clause that comes with favourable terms.

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