World

Why Mike Pence is giving Xi Jinping the stink-eye in this picture

Image of the week: APEC leaders gathered in Papua New Guinea against the backdrop of a U.S.-China trade war. It did not go well.

In 1989, countries on both sides of the Pacific formed the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) with a relatively straightforward goal: increase communication across the ocean, paving the way for smoother trade. Cooperation is literally in the name. So when U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping clashed—loudly and publicly—at this year’s summit in Papua New Guinea, it raised alarms. In his speech, Pence blamed China’s intellectual-property theft, unfair tariffs and industrial subsidies for a $375-billion trade deficit with the U.S., and depicted Xi as a global huckster luring nations into their cross-continental infrastructure plan, dubbed “One Belt, One Road,” only to leave them saddled with debt. Xi seemed a dubious spokesperson for meeting challenges “in a responsible, rules-based way,” as he put it, given that he recently changed China’s laws to basically allow him to become president for life. But he struck a more optimistic tone than Pence, encouraging cooperation, openness and free trade. Chinese officials later denied Pence’s claims outright. While the two global figures don’t see eye-to-eye, their eyes certainly met, at least, as captured in this photo of Pence staring down the Chinese leader, Spaghetti Western-style.

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