Chinese President Xi Jinping, US Vice President Kamala Harris and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida were among several world leaders who arrived in Thailand on Thursday to attend a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping of nations.
Like the G20 Summit, which recently concluded in Bali, the APEC forum is likely to be dominated by discussions on the geopolitical tensions triggered by the nine-month-long Ukraine war.
During the 21-member APEC summit, the leaders are expected to address surging energy and food prices and supply chain disruptions sparked by Russia’s war in Ukraine, Japan’s Kyodo News reported.
Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is hosting the 21-member bloc, said at a pre-summit event that the agenda was to focus on “new trade and investment narratives…the need to reconnect supply chains and travel, and the global sustainability agenda”, Reuters reported.
A series of bilateral meetings are also slated to be held on the sidelines of the summit, with the most high-profile being that of Xi Jinping and Fumio Kishida. This will be their first in-person meeting, coming on the back of heightened regional tension in the South China Sea.
“The two sides will exchange their views on China-Japan relations and global and regional issues of mutual concern,” Mao Ning, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a press conference on Wednesday.
In recent months, Kishida has criticised China for “violating Japan’s sovereignty” and also expressed concerns over the human rights matter in Xinjiang region.
Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have also confirmed they would hold face-to-face meetings with Xi, a report in Al Jazeera said. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is also attending the APEC summit.
US President Joe Biden, who will be at his granddaughter’s wedding, will be represented by Vice President Kamala Harris.
French President Emmanuel Macron is a special invitee.
The APEC meeting comes on the heels of the G20 Summit in Bali where differences among members on the Russia-Ukraine war spilled out in the open.
However, the Bali declaration made it clear that the members were against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and sought “peaceful resolution of conflicts”.
“Today’s era must not be of war,” the declaration said, echoing the remark made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the margins of the SCO summit in September.
Russia is a member of both G20 and APEC but President Vladimir Putin has stayed away. He was represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the G20 and First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov will stand in for him at APEC.