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China Blames Protectionism for Lack of APEC Summit Agreement

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BEIJING  – The failure of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the weekend to agree on a communique was down to certain countries “excusing” protectionism and trying to force their views on others, a senior Chinese diplomat said.

His comments come despite the fact that Police were called when Chinese officials attempted to “barge” into the office of Papua New Guinea’s foreign minister, on Sunday, as APEC summit tensions boiled over.

The Chinese delegates “tried to barge in” to Rimbink Pato’s Port Moresby office Saturday, in an eleventh-hour bid to influence a summit draft communique, but were denied entry.

The diplomatic incident came with tensions already high at a summit of Asian-Pacific leaders that has been overshadowed by a spat between the United States and China.

Pato had refused to meet with the delegates, according to a source, who said: “It’s not appropriate for the minister to negotiate solo with the Chinese. The Chinese negotiating officials know this.”

Asked about the incident, Chinese Foreign Ministry official Zhang Xiaolong told reporters: “It’s not true. It’s simply not true,” suggesting the report was an effort to damage China-PNG diplomatic ties.

APEC nations usually agree a joint statement, but officials were unable to bridge deep divides on trade policy said that a formal communique would not be issued.

Sunday’s claims against Chinese officials are not the first of their kind.

At the Pacific Islands Forum in September, Nauru’s president demanded China apologise after its delegation walked out of a meeting when the host refused to let an envoy speak until island leaders had finished.

“They’re not our friends. They just need us for their own purposes,” President Baron Waqa said at the time.

On Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry said the United States, whose delegation at the summit was lead by Vice President Mike Pence, attended APEC in a “blaze of anger”, and that China had not gone to “get into a boxing ring”.

The angry rhetoric comes ahead of the next major international summit, the G20 in Argentina which starts at the end of the month, where U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet.

Pence said on Saturday that the United States will not back down from its trade dispute with China, and might even double its tariffs, unless Beijing bows to U.S. demands.

Trump has imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports to force concessions on a list of demands that would change the terms of trade between the two countries. China has responded with import tariffs on U.S. goods.

Washington is demanding Beijing improve market access and intellectual property protections for U.S. companies, cut industrial subsidies and slash a $375 billion trade gap.

Source: Reuters, Japan Times