At APEC, PM puts Australia on frontline of US confrontation with China
21 November 2018
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has placed the country on the frontline of the mounting US confrontation with China, which was on open display at last weekend’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG).
US Vice President Mike Pence exploited the opportunity to launch a savage attack on China and its policies throughout the region, including its “militarisation” of islets in the South China Sea, its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure plans for Eurasia, and alleged theft of intellectual property. He warned that unless “China changes its ways,” the US would continue to escalate its massive tariffs on Chinese goods.
Pence’s speech marked a sharp escalation, not only in US trade war measures against China, but in its military build-up in Asia in preparation for war. For Australian capitalism, the geo-political standoff has dire implications, since it continues to depend militarily on the US alliance, and financially on Wall Street, yet China remains its largest trading partner.
In his comments, Morrison absurdly maintained that “Australia doesn’t have to choose and we won’t choose” between the US and China. Despite Pence’s aggressive speech, the prime minister maintained that rifts between the world’s two largest economies would be patched up when President Trump met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of the month. The deep divide between the US and China is underscored by the fact that the APEC summit failed to issue a joint communique, for the first time in its 29 years, due to the failure of the two powers to agree on the wording.