US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping and leaders of the economies that are members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation concluded their virtual APEC leaders meeting on Friday and agreed on a series of commitments related to the coronavirus pandemic, economic recovery and mitigation of climate change.
Following the meeting chaired by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, leaders adopted a statement themed “Join, Work, Grow. Together” highlighting policy actions to respond to COVID-19.
According to the organisers, the statement sets out “commitments to accelerate economic recovery and achieve sustainable and inclusive growth, including further action to tackle climate change, empower groups with untapped economic potential, support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the region and close the digital divide.”
The 21 member economies of APEC account for nearly 3 billion people and about 60 percent of global GDP, from the Pacific Rim from Chile to Russia to Thailand to Australia.
Officials said they made significant progress during some 340 preparatory meetings. APEC members had agreed to reduce or eliminate many tariffs and border crossings on vaccines, masks and other medical products important to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
The APEC meeting followed an unexpected statement between the US and China made on Wednesday at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, where the world’s two largest carbon emitters said they would work together to achieve the target that has been set. in the 2015 Paris climate agreement of limiting warming since pre-industrial times to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F) by the end of the century.
While the statement was short on details, Washington and Beijing pledged to work together to reduce emissions and establish a joint working group that will meet regularly to address the climate crisis over the next decade. Analysts cited these small positive signals ahead of the Biden-Xi virtual summit scheduled for Monday.
The Glasgow statement significantly moves the two countries toward a collaborative relationship in the many areas where Biden and Xi have complementary or similar interests, said Charles Morrison, an adjunct senior fellow at the East-West Center, a research group founded by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations between the peoples of Asia, the Pacific and the United States.
“What I’d like to see is a joint study of where they have common ground and then an implementation strategy,” Morrison added.
According to the White House, in his speech at the virtual meeting, Biden underlined “his commitment to strengthening our relationship with the APEC economies to promote fair and open trade and investment, enhance U.S. competitiveness and create a free and open Indo-Pacific.” to assure. .”
Xi made a similar promise in his speech, saying that China would “unshakably” extend its opening to the outside world and share China’s development opportunities with the world and Asia-Pacific countries, state broadcaster CCTV said.
However, Jennifer Bouey, Tang Chair for China Policy Studies at the RAND Corporation, a US global policy research group, noted that Beijing recently passed two new privacy and security laws that restrict data sharing under the guise of national security and common interest.
“They are also becoming a barrier to China’s cooperation, not just with the US, but with the whole world,” Bouey said.
APEC members failed to reach consensus on a US proposal to host APEC meetings in 2023. Russia rejected the offer because of a US blacklist of its diplomats drawn up in April, when Washington sanctioned the Kremlin for meddling in the 2020 US presidential election and hacking into federal agency systems.
“The Russians simply did not want to accept the United States’ ability to make persona non grata for the Russian so-called diplomats who are no longer welcome in the United States, and the United States did not enter into negotiations on security issues,” said Patrick Cronin, the Asia-Pacific safety chair at the Hudson Institute, a research group in Washington.
There are no other bidders to host the 2023 meetings, although APEC operates on a consensus basis, so all members must agree.
“One economy is still under negotiation and has not reached a consensus yet,” a White House official told VOA. “We hope this impasse will be resolved quickly to ensure we can continue the positive momentum for economic cooperation through APEC.”
Meanwhile, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen used the APEC meetings to rally support for her bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a trade pact Beijing also wants to be a part of. Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has vowed to block Taipei’s bid.
CPTPP members are likely to negotiate with Beijing first and settle the issue of Chinese membership before Taiwan makes an offer — a process likely to take years.
“It needs approval from the likes of Japan, Canada and Australia, none of which are currently inclined to roll out the red carpet for China,” said Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States. the Wilson Center, a global policy group in Washington.
However, Daly said there is a chance that more countries will gradually come to accommodate China.
“We know that China is patient, that they are gradual and that they will work with the other parties one by one,” he said. “And China is still going after this as the leading trading nation in the world and the benchmark of the Asian economy.”
The Biden administration has shown no interest in joining CPTPP, the 11-nation trade pact that was signed in 2018 after former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2017 from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement under which President Barack agreed. Obama had negotiated to counter US economic involvement in the Asia-Pacific region and China’s growing influence there.
Some of the information for this report came from The Associated Press.