The 21 nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby struggled to bridge differences on the role of the World Trade Organization, which governs global trade.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, second from right, sits beside Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, right, and Christine Lagarde, second from left, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, during the International Monetary Fund informal dialogue on the State of the Regional & Global Economy as part of APEC meet activities at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018.
After world leaders jetted out of Papua New Guinea following the acrimonious end to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Pacific nation leaders gathered at Australia's High Commission for kangaroo sausages and cold beer.
Draft versions of the communique showed the United States had called for strong language against unfair trade practices that it accuses China of.
China and the USA ignored sustained pressure from a series of countries and instead escalated their trade war at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting. He said a trade war would produce "no winners". "Those prevented there being a full consensus on the communique".
The multilateral trade order that APEC was established in 1989 to protect is crumbling as Chinese assertiveness in the Pacific and US tariffs strain relations in the region and divide loyalties.
"The language we heard from Pence is quite concerning because it shows we're moving toward a zero-sum game geopolitics in the Asia-Pacific", said Jonathan Pryke, a researcher specializing in the Pacific at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based research group. Pence accused China of intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and unfair trading practices.
"It goes beyond that to freedom of navigation in the seas, concerns about human rights", Pence said.
Prior to Pence's comments, China's Xi Jinping lashed out at U.S. protectionism, labeling the United States approach as "short-sighted" and was "doomed to failure".
The vice president said he told President Xi that President Trump and the American people want a positive relationship with China, but there has to be change for that to happen.
"The assistance provided by China has been warmly welcomed by our partners in this region and beyond", Wang Xiaolong, a foreign ministry official, told a news conference.
According to the Associated Press, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said after the meeting, "I don't think it will come as a huge surprise that there are differing visions" on trade.
Vice President Mike Pence sharpened USA attacks on China during a week of summits that ended Sunday, most notably with a call for nations to avoid loans that would leave them indebted to Beijing.
Leaders pose for a family photo ahead of the retreat session during the APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on November 18, 2018.
Papua New Guinea agreed in June to join China's multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) where infrastructure projects are built to boost trade links, but SCMP noted the example of Sri Lanka giving up a port to China on a 99-year lease after it struggled with debts for the port's construction to illustrate the risks of poorer nations unable to cope with debt burdens.
Australia and the U.S. will also jointly expand the Lombrum naval base on Manus Island, opening up a key staging point into the contested South China Sea.
On Sunday, the US, New Zealand, Japan and Australia said they would work with Papua New Guinea's government to bring electricity to 70 percent of its people by 2030.