US, allies to bring electricity to most of Papua New Guinea

VP Pence: US willing to double tariffs on China if fair trade deal is not made

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.

The back-and-forth on a cruise ship docked in Port Moresby, the capital, suggested the world's biggest economies remained far from a deal to end a damaging trade war even after President Donald Trump said he was optimistic about a resolution.

The APEC summit has developed into a tussle for influence between an increasingly assertive China and a more withdrawn US. Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, in his closing comments said, . the group will try to ensure "free and open" trade by 2020.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attended instead of Trump.

"The cooperation is of course well received by the developing countries", senior Chinese foreign ministry official, Lu Kang, said during his regular briefing.

But he said numerous points of disagreement were beyond the scope of APEC, and could only be hammered out by the WTO.

US Vice President Mike Pence later told the summit in Port Moresby that Washington would not change its approach until Beijing changes its own trade policies.

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.

One mentioned opposing "unfair trade practices" and reforming the WTO, while another concerned sustainable development.

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Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 27 years ago, the two countries have been treating each other as equals, and scored deepening political mutual trust and fruitful results in various cooperations, which brought tangible benefits to the two peoples and made positive contributions to peace and prosperity in the region, said Xi.

On how to make progress on the China-US trade war - which he called a very complicated and hard issue - Mr Lee told Singapore media that it becomes very hard to solve if viewed as "a manifestation of a fundamental contradiction between two countries".

China has been providing millions of dollars in loans for infrastructure projects in the region and has become the second-largest donor of foreign aid there behind Australia. "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", Pence said.

"We do not offer a constricting belt or a one-way road", he said. "It's remarkable to think of the impact this will have on people's lives across this nation".

Australia announced last month that it would work with PNG to develop the island's Lombrum Naval Base. China has recently turned its attention to the region with a raft of bilateral financing agreements to often distressed economies.

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".

Manus Island was a major US naval base during the Second World War, playing a key role in Washington's Pacific strategy.

"No country either in this region or in other regions has fallen into a so called debt trap because of its cooperation with China".

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