Pence slams China's 'opaque' checkbook diplomacy, trade practices

Saul Bowman
November 18, 2018

In combative back-to-back speeches at a business forum held on a cruise ship moored in Port Moresby, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and US Vice President Mike Pence pulled few punches.

Speaking immediately after the Chinese leader, Mr Pence delivered a sharp critique of China's practices, saying that Beijing has taken advantage of the USA for many years as it engaged in quotas, forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft. The US imposed tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports in September and has threatened to extend this to nearly all of China's exports to the US.

But Mr Pence said the U.S. "will not change course until China changes its ways".

South Korea, he said, similarly entered global markets only after protecting their industries, as the country's first mass-produced auto, the Hyundai Pony, failed to be exported initially.

Amid speculation that China was wooing Papua New Guinea and planning to build its own military base, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on November 1 said Australia was boosting its commitment to the region and would partner with PNG in redeveloping Lombrum. "When you partner with us, we partner with you and we all prosper".

There was no hint of compromise from Mr. Pence.

In his speech Saturday, Pence announced the United States would be building a military base in Papua New Guinea, in cooperation with Australia, further entrenching Washington's military presence in Asia and the Pacific.

President Rodrigo Duterte's recent pronouncements on China's actions in the disputed South China Sea may be used against the Philippines, an analyst said Saturday.

Batongbacal expressed fears that the President's latest remarks might once again place the country at a disadvantage.


"China has taken advantage of the United States for many, many years and those days are over", he told the meeting of world leaders.

With concerns growing that rivalry between the USA and China could escalate, Xi warned against going down that road.

China has stayed on the path of peaceful development, got actively involved in global economic governance, and actively supported other developing countries in their development, he said. It is not targeted against anyone and it does not exclude anyone. nor is it a trap as some people have labelled it.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said nations have to re-evaluate the trade model and economic integration, because some people are being left behind. We don't coerce, corrupt, or compromise your independence.

Washington's diplomacy wouldn't involve a "constricting belt or a one-way road", he pointedly told CEOs from around the region.

The APEC summit has developed into a tussle for influence between an increasingly assertive China and a more withdrawn US.

"Our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific will prevail", Pence said.

"But the key thing here is the PNG Government has invited us to participate at Manus Island in the Lombrum initiative and they've invited the United States to do the same thing, so we're pleased to be working together".

"China welcomes and encourages fair competition among them, and will fully protect their legitimate rights and interests", Xi said.

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