What was supposed to be the summit that showcases Papua New Guinea to some of the world’s powerful economies ended up being the show ground for a US-China power struggle in the largest island in the South Pacific.
It was an APEC Summit of one drama after another, fuelled by the public tussle for influence in what has historically been the domain of influence of the US and its Pacific allies of Australia to a larger extent and New Zealand to some extent.
Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin called the summit a “tragicomedy of errors,” putting the blame squarely not on the host, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill but on the “Chinese government.”
The Jakarta Post newspaper on the other hand called it a “botched Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.” Its editorial carried the headline, ‘Make APEC boring again.’
The war of words between the two economic giants in the APEC membership of China and the United States overshadowed the Port Moresby meeting. For the first time ever in the history of APEC, delegates could not agree on the adoption of the summit declaration.
APEC chair O’Neill reportedly exclaimed, “you know the two big giants in the room, what can I say?” Delegates said the US had wanted a much stronger language in the declaration against the World Trade Organisation while Beijing wanted no mention of fighting protectionism and unfair trade practices in the document. Such a mention could only be targeting at China, they protested. “APEC has got no charter over the World Trade Organisation,” O’Neill was quoted as saying. “That is a fact. Those matters can be raised at the World Trade Organisation.”
Depending on who you talk to, the failure of the adoption of the APEC Summit declaration in Port Moresby was…
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