U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping offered competing economic views as they spoke to regional leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea's capital.
Pence warned APEC members about accepting foreign debt that "could compromise your sovereignty" and urged the APEC members to "protect your interests, preserve your independence. And just like America, always put your country first."
Pence said the U.S. "commitment to the Indo-Pacific region has never been stronger."
Xi spoke to the summit about his flagship Belt and Road initiative, designed to bolster a sprawling network of land and sea links with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Xi said there is no geopolitical agenda behind Belt and Road.
"It does not exclude anyone," he said. "It is not an exclusive club closed to non-members, nor is it a trap as some people have labelled it."
Pence also met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Pence welcomed Morrison's recent announcement of significant new Australian assistance to Pacific Island nations.
The two leaders also announced their two countries will build a naval base on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.
Also Saturday, the governments of the U.S., Australia and Japan issued a statement on their trilateral partnership for infrastructure investment in the Indo-Pacific region. They said they are promoting a region that is free, open, inclusive, prosperous and secure.
Pence, Xi Sell Differing World Views