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Duterte cuts short Papua New Guinea APEC trip

17 November 2018

US Vice President Mike Pence makes his keynote speech at the CEO Summit of the Apec summit. The nation's growing influence in Papua New Guinea was on display in Port Moresby: dozens of red Chinese flags line a new six-lane highway built by China, while a giant billboard shows Xi shaking hands with Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. "That's why the strong partnership that we develop between our two countries is helping us develop and grow our economy".

Speaking before Pence, Xi said there was no geopolitical agenda behind the Belt and Road plan, which was unveiled in 2013 and aims to bolster a sprawling network of land and sea links with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

"It is not created to serve any hidden geopolitical agenda. Rather, the BRI is a major and transparent initiative with which China shares opportunities".

"Meanwhile, across town, Taiwan hosted its own event for the smaller number of countries that recognise it".

The stark warning will likely be unwelcome news to financial markets which had hoped for a thaw in the Sino-U.S. dispute and perhaps even some sort of deal at a G20 meeting later this month in Argentina.

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The implicit reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative came as Pence neared the end of his week-long swing through Asia, with his aides characterising Saturday's speech as the capstone of his trip.

"It is not an exclusive club closed to non-members, nor is it a trap as some people have labelled it", Mr. Xi said of his brainchild project.

Can the U.S. and China resolve their differences?

"Technology and innovation should not be locked up or become profit making tools for just a few".

"We should say no to protectionism and unilateralism", he said.

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Xi and Trump are set to meet in two weeks during the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, a face-to-face laden with high stakes as the U.S. and China try to settle the escalating trade war.

Mr O'Neill thanked China for its infrastructure development support. The US has complained about China being classified as a developing country and argues it gives an unfair advantage.

US President Donald Trump has chose to skip the APEC summit, which some critics say has left the stage free for China to bolster its influence in the region.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday told reporters that Australia was willing to partner with China, as well as with the USA and Japan, on infrastructure development if projects were transparent and didn't create debt burdens.

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Duterte cuts short Papua New Guinea APEC trip