To Those Of Us Reaching The End Of The Road

It was a summit to help sort out the Pacific's problems, but, in the end, it was all about the lingering spat between two of the world's most-powerful nations.

At the start of November, with US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping injecting a little optimism into a bilateral relationship that's been at its lowest ebb in decades, unfortunately it now seems resolving US-China trade differences ahead of a possible face-to-face at the G20 meeting in Argentina looks pretty distant.

The weekend's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Port Moresby was one of open hostility, bilateral acrimony, and big-brother posturing over which giant would make the stronger regional partner.

The ill will spilled over into what was now a historic APEC summit for all the wrong reasons.

The annual meeting, this year held in the New Guinean capital of Port Moresby, ended in disarray and a little chaos when a belligerent contest between the two dominant powers ensured that, for the first time, there was no consensus communiqué for the 21 national leaders to walk away with.

That failure was "by no means accidental," the Chinese government foreign ministry spokesman Wang Yi said in his weekly comments posted on the foreign ministry's website.

"It is mainly that individual economies insisted on imposing their own texts on other parties, excusing protectionism and unilateralism, and not accepting reasonable revisions from the Chinese and other parties," Wang said, in a reference to the US and the disintegration that was APEC's final hours.

Not only could leaders not meet at a consensus ­position for the first time in a quarter of a century, but Peter O'Neill, the prime minister of Papua New Guinea, was bundled out of the summit in a media scrum and Chinese officials were accused of pressuring the country's foreign minister and breaking into his office.

It is the first time since 1993 that a leaders' communiqué has not been issued after the annual APEC meeting.

Giants in the room

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for a family photo during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Port Moresby on November 17, 2018.

O'Neill referenced "the two big ­giants in the room" when asked why the closing communiqué was not drawn up, amid chaotic scenes.

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