Chinese leader Xi Jinping has stressed the need to reject conflict in Asia and warned of the risk of Cold War tensions, as leaders gather for the last of three world summits being held in the region this month.
Xi opened the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok by laying out his wish for China to be seen as a driving force for regional unity in a written speech released ahead of Friday’s opening day – which also appeared to be veiled. in the United States.
The Asia-Pacific region is “nobody’s backyard” and should not become “a scene of great power competition,” Xi said in the statement, condemning “all attempts to politicize and weaponize economic and trade relations.”
“No attempt to wage a new Cold War will ever be allowed by the people or our time,” he added in the remarks, which were addressed to business leaders meeting on the sidelines of the summit and did not mention the United States.
Xi struck a softer tone in a separate address to APEC leaders on Friday morning as the main event began, calling for stability, peace and the development of a “more just world order”.
Leaders and representatives from 21 economies on both sides of the Pacific are meeting in the Thai capital for the two-day summit to discuss how best to promote growth in the region, which is at odds with the United States and China. regional tensions and the economic impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Those challenges were stark on Friday morning when North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Kim Jong Un regime’s second weapons test in two days amid increased provocation from Pyongyang.
US Vice President Kamala Harris gathered on the sidelines of the summit with leaders from Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada to condemn the shooting at an impromptu press conference.
In a speech Friday to business leaders, Harris said the United States has a “deep stake” in the region, describing America as a “strong partner” in its economies and the “big growth driver in the world.”
Without mentioning China in her address, she also touted US initiatives to counter Beijing’s regional influence, including the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, launched by Washington earlier this year, and the Global Infrastructure and Investment Partnership .
“America is here to stay,” said the vice president, representing the U.S. at the summit after President Joe Biden returned home for a family event after attending meetings surrounding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and the G20 summit. in Bali, Indonesia in recent days.
Despite the rivalry between the US and China, the three summits have also provided an opportunity to defuse rising tensions and strained relations between the world’s top two powers.
Relations between the US and China have deteriorated sharply in recent years, with the two sides clashing over Taiwan, the war in Ukraine, North Korea and technology transfer, among other issues.
In August, following US President Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China fired multiple missiles into waters around the self-governing island and stepped up military flights and military aircraft exercises in the surrounding area. Beijing claims the democratic island as its territory, despite never having ruled it, and suspended a number of talks with the United States over the visit.
A landmark meeting between Xi and Biden on the sidelines of the G20 in Bali on Monday – the leaders’ first since Biden took office – ended with the two sides agreeing to boost communication and cooperation on issues such as climate and food security.
After landing in Bangkok on Thursday, Chinese leader Xi sat down with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for the first meeting between the two Asian leaders in nearly three years. Both sides called for greater cooperation after a breakdown in relations over disputed issues from Taiwan to disputed islands.
However, at stake in the broader meeting is whether leaders can find consensus on how to handle Russian aggression in a final document, or whether differences of opinion among a broad group of nations will prevent such an outcome, despite months of discussion among APEC nations. ‘ lower officials.
Leaders are expected to back a proposal based on a Thai government-backed initiative to promote sustainability, but the summit has faced some setbacks in the country. Thai police dispersed a group of protesters marching to the APEC summit on Friday, police said in a statement.
Protest organizer Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon said in a Facebook post that police had used force, including firing rubber bullets, to stop those protesting the rally.
And whether leaders will agree on a further statement addressing the global economic situation remains to be seen from Friday.
Addressing business leaders on the sidelines of the summit on Friday morning, French President Emmanuel Macron, who was invited by host Thailand, called for solidarity and unity against Moscow’s aggression.
“Help us deliver the same message to Russia: stop the war, respect the international order and come back to the table,” he said.
Macron also called out US-China rivalry and warned of the dangers to peace if countries are forced to choose between the two superpowers.
“We need a single global order,” Macron said to applause from business leaders.