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But when US Vice President Mike Pence addressed the assembly, he said Washington would not back down in its trade dispute with China and could double its tariffs unless Beijing agreed to its demands.

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech titled Jointly Charting a Course Toward a Brighter Future while attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on November 17, 2018.

Vice-President Mike Pence chided China at an Asian summit, saying the U.S. offers countries in the region "a better option" for economic and diplomatic relations than Beijing's heavy-handed approach.

"We've put tariffs on US$250 billion in Chinese goods and that number could more than double", he told CEOs from around the region.

China's President Xi Jinping (習近平) stood left in the front row, so no interaction with the Taiwanese envoy occurred, CNA reported.

Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke of the need for global cooperation and worldwide trade, telling the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit there was no issue that countries couldn't work out "through consultation".

Pence also met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

"In partnership with our Pacific neighbours, we are the second most significant donor in the region", she said.

Ms Ardern and Mr Peters will be staying in Port Moresby, despite Mr Pence opting to fly back and forth from Cairns, and Ms Ardern said she felt comfortable with the security arrangements.

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He added that the United States would join forces with Australia in the development of a new naval base to be built in PNG's Lombrum Naval Base on Manus island, in what is seen as a move to curb China's influence in the Pacific.

Moments earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the same audience that confrontation "whether in the form of a cold war, a hot war or a trade war, will produce no winners".

Mr Pence said the U.S. was also forging "new and renewed security partnerships", including recent trilateral naval exercises with India and Japan.

Mr Xi said: "Let me make this clear - the BRI is an open platform for cooperation".

Pence attended the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit, representing the United States as one of the dialogue partners of the regional bloc.

Xi and Trump are set to meet in two weeks during the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, a face-to-face laden with high stakes as the USA and China try to settle the escalating trade war. "The United States of America seeks a better relationship with China based on fairness, reciprocity and respect for sovereignty", Pence said. His vice-president, though, took a hard line to a gathering of business leaders at the APEC summit, saying there would be no backing down from tariffs until China changed its ways. "Protect your interest, preserve your independence".

Mr Xi and Mr Pence yesterday also sparred over China's worldwide trillion-dollar infrastructure drive - the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) - that has prompted concerns over what some view as China's use of economic inducements to gain influence in recipient countries.

"We don't offer constricting belts or a one-way road", said Mr. Pence.