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APEC summit sees China and US at odds over trade war

The Asia-Pacific summit has become the latest stage for the trade dispute between the US and China. Beijing called for consultations as Washington threatened more tariffs. The main protagonists in the US-China trade war set out their positions at the start of an Asia-Pacific summit in Papua New Guinea on Saturday. Ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping was first to speak and said there would be no winners from a trade war or a new Cold War. Protectionist actions were shortsighted and doomed to fail, Xi said. "We should say no to protectionism and unilateralism," Xi said, in evident reference to President Donald Trump's "America First" policies. "Attempts to erect barriers and cut close economic ties work against the laws of economics and the trends of history," Xi said. "This is a shortsighted approach and it is doomed to failure." The Chinese leader said the world should "uphold the WTO-centered multilateral trading system, make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all." Xi's comments follow months of a trade dispute between the US and China, with each imposing tariffs on the other's goods. "History has shown that confrontation — whether in the form of a cold war, hot war or trade war — will produce no winners," he said. He also called for a resolution to the dispute through consultation, in a spirit of equality and mutual understanding. US VP Mike Pence defiant But when US Vice President Mike Pence addressed the assembly, he said Washington would not back down in its trade dispute with China and could double its tariffs unless Beijing agreed to its demands. "We have taken decisive action to address our imbalance with China," Pence declared. "We put tariffs on $250 billion (€218 billion) in Chinese goods, and we could more than double that number." "The United States, though, will not change course until China changes its ways," Pence stated. Pence also attacked China's global infrastructure "Belt and Road" initiative, calling many of the projects low quality and saying it left developing countries with debt they were unable to afford. Xi had defended the initiative: "It is not designed to serve any hidden geopolitical agenda, it is not targeted against anyone and it does not exclude anyone ... nor is it a trap as some people have labeled it," he said. "Mankind has once again reached a crossroads," Xi remarked. "Which direction should we choose? Cooperation or confrontation? Openness or closing doors. Win-win progress or a zero-sum game?" The assembled leaders were from Pacific Rim countries, which account for 60 percent of the world's economy.

The Asia-Pacific summit has become the latest stage for the trade dispute between the US and China. Beijing called for consultations as Washington threatened more tariffs. The main protagonists in the US-China trade war set out their positions at the start of an Asia-Pacific summit in Papua New Guinea on Saturday. Ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit ... Read More »

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin ‘agree on Syria,’ brush off election meddling

In a joint statement on Syria, the US president and his Russian counterpart have agreed to fight IS extremists together. At a regional summit, the two leaders also denied claims of Moscow interference in the US election. US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin assured him that Moscow did not interfere in the 2016 US election during their discussions on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Danang, Vietnam. "Every time he sees me, he said: 'I didn't do that.' And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that he means it," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. "He said he didn't meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times," Trump said. He also noted that Putin is "very insulted" by the accusation. Putin also swatted away accusations of election meddling as a US "domestic political struggle", in comments to reporters. "I think these are some sort of fantasies," he said of claims of collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. Read more: Why is the United States interested in the 'Indo-Pacific'? Informal talks Trump and Putin did not have a formal meeting at the APEC summit, but the two leaders met unofficially several times since late Friday and have even posed for a side-by-side photo. Such a meeting would take place against a fraught background, with some of Trump's key aides under investigation for alleged collaboration with Moscow ahead of the president's win in 2016 elections. US officials may well be anxious to avoid any encounter between the two men that could be seen to reinforce the notion that they are in cahoots in any way. Both the White House and the Kremlin have denied any wrongdoing. Read more: APEC summit: Free trade in Asia in the age of protectionism Democrats creating 'artificial barrier' Trump's also accused US Democrats of standing in the way of a "good relationship" with Russia by accusing Moscow of meddling in the elections. He said Russia's help would be beneficial in "solving" problems with North Korea, Syria and Ukraine, adding that "people will die" because of the Democratic "hit job." Although no top-level formal Moscow-Washington encounter took place in Vietnam, the summit saw a brief meeting between Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his US counterpart Rex Tillerson. Lavrov, when asked to give the details of their talks, said only: "I can but I wouldn't." Agreement on Syria Trump and Putin did issue a statement on Saturday in which they agreed to continue joint efforts to fight the terrorist group "Islamic State" (IS) in Syria until it is completely defeated. The joint statement, published on the Kremlin's website, said that the two leaders also confirmed their commitment to Syria's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and called on all warring parties to participate actively in the UN-sponsored peace process in Geneva. According to the text of the statement, Moscow and Washington also agreed that there was no military solution to the conflict, which began in 2011 with peaceful protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has since grown into a multiparty war involving combatants ranging from government forces and "moderate" rebels to Islamist extremists such as IS. Opposing views Russia and the United States have taken different sides in the conflict, with Moscow giving military support to troops of its longtime ally Assad, while Washington until this year backed rebels it considered legitimate in their fight against the Syrian regime. Reports in July 2017 said Trump had ended the clandestine CIA program of support for such rebels. Russia has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria since 2015, when it stepped in to support Assad's rule, tipping the conflict very much in his favor.

In a joint statement on Syria, the US president and his Russian counterpart have agreed to fight IS extremists together. At a regional summit, the two leaders also denied claims of Moscow interference in the US election. US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin assured him that Moscow did not interfere in the 2016 ... Read More »

China’s relationship with US ‘at hinge moment,’ says Xi

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he hopes for a "smooth transition" in ties with the US after a final meeting with Obama. Xi pledged further economic opening in his country as APEC leaders sought new trade options. US President Barack Obama has met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for the final time on Saturday at the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima, Peru. He called the period following Donald Trump's election a "hinge moment" in relations between Beijing and Washington. Xi also spoke of his hope for a "smooth transition" in those ties without directly naming Trump. The President-elect's campaign often criticized China, blaming the country for "inventing" climate change and said he would either scrap or renegotiate international trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). "I hope the two sides will work together to focus on cooperation, manage our differences, and make sure there is a smooth transition in the relationship and that it will continue to grow going forward," Xi said. Obama, who has met with his Chinese counterpart nine times since he took office in 2009, has worked to slowly improve cooperation with China while managing fallout from disputes in the South China Sea. "I continue to believe that a constructive US-China relationship benefits our two peoples and benefits the entire globe," Obama said. "We've demonstrated what's possible when our two countries work together." The two sides also restated their commitment to "denuclearizing the Korean peninsula" following their meeting China ready to fill the trade void Xi also emphasized his country's commitment to economic opening, painting his country as a leader on free trade during the summit. "China will not shut its door to the outside world but open more," Xi said in a keynote address at APEC. "We're going to...make sure the fruits of development are shared." The Chinese leader has been promoting an alternate vision for regional trade the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which currently excludes the Americas. The Obama administration has cautioned that RCEP would not include as many protections for the environment, workers or intellectual property. Chinese attendance at the APEC meeting in Lima was the largest it has ever been, with regional delegates saying China is ready to fill the void and take the lead on trade should the US turn towards protectionism under Trump. Despite China's efforts, some APEC members said they intend to press forward with TPP, hoping the US will still show leadership on trade. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said TPP members might be able to incorporate "cosmetic changes" to make the trade pact more attractive for the former reality TV star President-elect. "The Trump Pacific Partnership for instance, that'd be fine," Key said, laughing. The White House has urged world leaders to give Trump time to get accustomed to the office.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he hopes for a “smooth transition” in ties with the US after a final meeting with Obama. Xi pledged further economic opening in his country as APEC leaders sought new trade options. US President Barack Obama has met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for the final time on Saturday at the margins of ... Read More »

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