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Australian PM urges global leaders to reject protectionism, embrace free trade

17 November, 2018, 17:12 | Author: Melinda Barton
  • US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis shakes hands with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe watched by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi

Pence began his speech by saying the U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific had never been stronger.

But US Vice President Mike Pence, speaking after the Chinese leader, said while they had "great respect for President Xi" and China, there would be no backing down on the trade war with Beijing until it "changes its ways".

The Trump administration has levelled tariffs on US$250 billion in goods from China, over complaints of deep state subsidies for businesses and intellectual property theft.

His speech was a clear reference to the escalating trade war between the United States and China, along with the general protectionism of US President Donald Trump.

"We believe that there exist no issues that countries can not resolve through consultation", said the Chinese leader, as long as negotiations take place in a spirit of "equality" and "mutual understanding".

"We're in a very strong position, " Pence said when asked whether there was a deadline to end the trade war.

Trump told reporters Friday that the Chinese response to USA trade demands was largely complete but was missing four or five big issues.

He has also held his own meeting with PNG and the seven other Pacific leaders that have diplomatic relations with China: Fiji, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia and Niue. It is a small country, small economy, but with huge potential. 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.


Countries which embrace protectionism are "doomed to failure", China's Xi Jinping has warned in a veiled swipe at the US's America First policy.

As well as the $US12 million road President Xi also opened unveiled the Butuka Academy in the capital's Moresby South District.

"We need to strengthen the rules-based system of global governance if we want to reach stability and development".

Xi, who spoke before Pence, anticipated numerous USA criticisms in his speech.

Global leaders must promote free trade, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday. -China dispute "will hurt the region economically".

"Our efforts must be about persuading and convincing our peoples again about the domestic benefits", said Morrison.

"It is the bilateral meetings, the sideline meetings that perhaps tell us more about what's going on here", Thomas said.

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