Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Vice-President Mike Pence traded barbs at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea on Saturday (17 November), South China Morning Post has reported.
Xi criticised the current wave of protectionism by the U.S and Pence hit back saying that the U.S. will not back down on tariffs while Beijing engages in "forced technology transfers" and "intellectual property theft."
Xi urged the business and political leaders to uphold free trade and a multilateral global system. “Unilateralism and protectionism will not solve problems but add uncertainty to the world economy,” he said adding that war, whether in the form of a cold war, a hot war or a trade war, produces no winners.
Xi also added that "there are no issues that countries cannot resolve through consultation" as long as they understand each other.
Vice-President Pence was more forthright in his criticism than Xi. “We have great respect for President Xi and China, but as we all know, China has taken advantage of the United States for many, many years and those days are over,” he said.
“As we know, [China] has engaged in quotas, forced technology transfers, intellectual property theft and industrial subsidies on an unprecedented scale," the vice president said.
“The US will not change course until China changes its ways,” Pence said, adding that the White House may further introduce new tariffs on Chinese goods.
The two leaders also exchanged sharply divergent views that went beyond trade issues. Pence attacked China’s Belt and Road Initiative in sharp terms saying that the terms of loans under it are vague at best and projects unsustainable.
Xi denied the ‘debt-trap’ allegation against the initiative and said that it was an ‘open platform for cooperation’ with no hidden political agenda.
“It does not cause debt traps, as some want to label it, [but] is a transparent project that brings common development to the world.”
Pence also went on to criticise China's closed internet, known as the Great Firewall. A "free and open Indo-Pacific deserves a free and open internet," Pence said.
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