Cops called after delegates try to 'barge' into minister's office

The diplomatic incident came with tensions already high at a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders that has been overshadowed by a spat between US and China.
The diplomatic incident came with tensions already high at a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders that has been overshadowed by a spat between US and China.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

PORT MORESBY • Police were called when Chinese officials attempted to "barge" into the office of Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister, it emerged yesterday, as Apec summit tensions boiled over.

The Chinese delegates "tried to barge" into Mr Rimbink Pato's Port Moresby office last Saturday, in an eleventh-hour bid to influence a summit draft communique, but were denied entry, three sources said. "Police were posted outside the minister's office after they tried to barge in," one source said, requesting anonymity.

The diplomatic incident came with tensions already high at a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders that has been overshadowed by a spat between the United States and China.

Mr Pato had refused to meet the delegates, according to a source, who said: "It's not appropriate for the minister to negotiate solo with the Chinese. The Chinese negotiating officials know this."

The minister himself sought to downplay the incident, saying: "There wasn't an issue."

Asked about the incident, Chinese Foreign Ministry official Zhang Xiaolong told reporters: "It's not true. It's simply not true."

Apec nations usually agree on a joint statement but officials are struggling to bridge divides on trade policy.

This is not the first time Chinese officials have been involved in a tense incident at a regional meeting.

At the Pacific Islands Forum in September, Nauru's President demanded that China apologise after its delegation walked out of a meeting when the host refused to let an envoy speak until island leaders had finished.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2018, with the headline 'Cops called after delegates try to 'barge' into minister's office'. Print Edition | Subscribe