APEC fails to reach consensus as U.S.-China divide dominates

But he insisted the summit had still been a success and allowed leaders to have "fruitful discussions ... and exchange frank views".

In other words, the dark side is upon us and China will do everything it can to prevent the Manus Island base going ahead.

Tensions reached boiling point at the weekend's Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea after the U.S. demanded references to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its possible reform and "unfair trade practices" be included in a joint communique following the summit.

"So the negotiations fell in a heap and the chair [Papua New Guinea] gave up".

No-one was known to be hurt, Kakas said, adding that he did not yet know how many police and soldiers were involved in the incident in the nation's capital Port Moresby.

The confrontation highlighted how rising tensions in the region have complicated the routine business of diplomacy - although some experts were already questioning the usefulness of the APEC summit. The vice president said he spoke twice with Xi during the summit, "briefly and candidly", and told him Trump was looking forward to meeting him in Argentina.

On Saturday Chinese diplomats stormed into the office of PNG Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato, demanding changes to the draft communique.

He called on the economies to adopt an open, inclusive and transparent approach to the various kinds of free trade arrangements to ensure coordinated and positive interactions among them.

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

In the APEC summit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed concerns about worldwide protectionist movements and stressed that any measures should be taken in accordance with WTO rules, a senior official said.

Most members affirmed their commitment to preserving the multilateral trading system and supported a robust and well-functioning WTO, he said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison used his speech at APEC to strongly criticize the US-China trade war while inviting other nations to participate in a revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership.

China has been building its influence in the region, and Chinese businesses are now deeply invested in Pacific island countries. He warned against taking Chinese loans, saying the U.S. "doesn't drown our partners in a sea of debt" nor offer "a constricting belt or a one-way road".

But the U.S. and its allies have also been keen to demonstrate they are determined to reassert their presence in the South Pacific.

The United States and its allies, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, countered on Sunday with a $1.7 billion plan to deliver reliable electricity and the internet to PNG.

Gary Juffa, governor of Papua New Guinea's Oro province, noted that Dr Mahathir had scraped China-linked projects worth hundreds of billions of ringgit by citing affordability issues.

The United States will not back down from its trade dispute with China, and might even double its tariffs, unless Beijing bows to USA demands, Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday.

"We trust that this announcement today and the part of the United States of America in this joint announcement is proof that America and our businesses are investing in this region as never before", said Pence.

"Our goal should be for the benefits of digital economy to reach all member economies at different stages of development and for the people of the Asia-Pacific to get aboard the fast train of a growing digital economy", he said.

"We all have to hope it goes in a constructive direction".

  • Joey Payne