China-US relations

Wang Yi turns spotlight on United States with claim China’s Apec amendment was vetoed

  • Foreign minister blames protectionism and unilateralism for summit impasse after ‘reasonable advice for revision proposed by China’
  • Beijing had also opposed the inclusion in Apec’s draft statement of a reference to unfair trade practices
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 1:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 10:08pm

China’s foreign minister has said Beijing was frustrated that its proposed amendment to a draft statement by leaders at the Apec summit was rejected by nations he accused of imposing a protectionist and unilateralist agenda on trade.

Wang Yi said China had suggested the amendment at the weekend’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Papua New Guinea, but that other countries “insisted on imposing their own text”.

Although he did not name any individual country, the statement followed Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Vice-President Mike Pence’s exchange of barbs at the summit over trade practices and their countries’ increasingly geopolitical rivalry.

For the first time, the 21 Pacific Rim leaders failed to reach a consensus on a joint statement to wrap up the economic dialogue in Port Moresby.

‘Simply not true’: China rejects claims Apec diplomats tried to ‘barge’ in on PNG minister’s office to influence communique

“It is by no means accidental that the meeting did not release the communiqué,” Wang said in a statement.

“It is mainly because some individual economies insisted on imposing their own text for a communiqué on other parties, excusing protectionism and unilateralism, and refused to accept reasonable advice for revision proposed by China and other parties.

“The practice led to the dissatisfaction of many economies including China, and apparently is not in line with the principle of consensus of Apec.” Consensus, he added, was the “basic rule for Apec”.

On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said many developing nations opposed trade protectionism. He also denied that China’s stance was the reason there was no agreement. “Power politics and economic bullying is opposed by most Apec members,” Geng said.

Apec summit ends without agreement as US and China’s deep divisions over trade emerge

Diplomatic observers said the rancour over the weekend reflected a hardening geopolitical rivalry between China and the United States, and that Washington would be seeking to maximise pressure on Beijing ahead of a crunch meeting between Xi and US President Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Argentina in two weeks’ time.

As reported previously by the South China Morning Post, a government source said Beijing opposed the inclusion in the draft statement of a line about “unfair trade practices”.

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The US has used the term in complaints and accusations about China’s market restrictions, forced technology transfers, alleged industrial espionage, government subsidies and intellectual property theft.

But the source said it was far-fetched to say that this line alone had caused the impasse.