The meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, which took place on the margins of the APEC summit, overshadowed the course and outcome of the latter. This is understandable. The state of relations between these two giants and the results of their negotiations are more important for the world, perhaps, than the regional summit. And yet, the 30th anniversary summit of this structure, held on American soil, is of considerable importance. Besides, this region is home to about 40% of the world’s population, which generates 54% of the world’s GDP, and APEC accounts for 44% of global trade.
For Russia, the results of the summit are symbolic to a certain extent. The Americans issued visas to the entire Russian delegation. Perhaps for the first time since February 2022, the summit was not used to organize provocations against Russian representatives and isolate them. At least, such facts are not reported by the media. Probably for the first time, if we take meetings of this scale, the Western coalition did not insist on the inclusion of the traditional paragraphs condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine in the final resolution. That is why it was possible to adopt the summit declaration, which is impossible without consensus — the consent of all parties. And the accompanying statement of the summit chairman noted that the bloc «exchanged views on the ongoing crisis in Gaza».
As for the conflict in Ukraine, the statement said that no agreement was reached, but it noted «deep concern» about the negative consequences of the Ukrainian crisis, which «exacerbates the existing instability in the global economy». As is known, the US chaired the summit. And this point in the chairman’s statement looks particularly hypocritical. After all, instead of showing «deep concern», one can eliminate the cause of «negative consequences of the Ukrainian crisis» with one phone call to Kiev, ending it in five minutes.
Of course, other Western countries, as they had done earlier at international forums, suggested that the relevant paragraphs condemning Russia be included in the final document. But the majority objected: APEC is an economic organization, global political issues are not in its competence. And while such objections were not taken into account before, everything went smoothly in San Francisco. It can be assumed that the reason for this is a certain change in the US approach in the context of normalizing relations with China. And China opposes politicization of such forums. In this connection, it is impossible not to mention how Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, reacted to the meeting between Biden and Xi Jinping. In her opinion, the talks between the US and Chinese leaders were «a much-needed signal that the world needs to cooperate more and a positive sign for cooperation in addressing global challenges, especially climate change».
Instead of mentioning conflicts, the APEC leaders’ declaration reaffirmed their determination to «ensure a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, inclusive and predictable trade and investment environment … We are committed to the necessary reform of the WTO to improve all its functions, including discussions to establish a fully and well-functioning dispute settlement system accessible to all members by 2024». In addition, the forum participants expressed their commitment to ensuring market openness and eliminating supply chain disruptions, saying they will «continue to work to ensure a level playing field for a favorable trade and investment environment». Russia, of course, insists that it should not be excluded from this process. And this was announced in San Francisco.
Let’s see how it will be implemented, especially when the world is dominated by the fashion for all sorts of economic sanctions, the creation of trade barriers and fragmentation of markets.
In general, for the first time a major international economic forum did not become another politicized show. This happened for many reasons, but not the least of which is China’s position. I mean not only its position at APEC, but also its global approach. And it consists in the fact that China, simply put, proposes not to quarrel and conflict, but to develop, trade and use the results of each other’s development.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the APEC summit is paradoxical. The leader of a country that forty years ago could not feed its population, is now the leader of global innovation development. The main thing he suggested to APEC leaders was development through innovation. It is impossible not to quote: «Innovation is a strong driver of development. We should follow the trends of scientific and technological advancement, more actively promote exchanges and cooperation in science and technology, and work together for an open, fair, equitable and non-discriminatory environment for scientific and technological progress. We should accelerate digital transformation, narrow the digital divide, redouble our efforts to implement the APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap, support the application of big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and other new technologies, and create new momentum and new drivers of growth in the Asia-Pacific region». And more, «China remains committed to its strategy for driving growth and development through innovation, and comprehensively promotes digital industrialization and digitalization of industry. We have put forward a series of initiatives to build digital villages, digitally identify companies, and promote green and low-carbon transformation through digital technology, which will drive APAC’s development». Look, says Xi, we are rapidly growing using new technologies and propose to make this strategy a driver for the region’s development, ready to share experience and technology. Here is a hint to the US, which is trying to slow down China’s development with the help of technological sanctions. Washington may have made a mistake in trying to shut Beijing out of innovations, as it has done many times before, for example, with supercomputers or space. If this policy continues, China will cooperate with other countries in terms of technology.
Then Xi Jinping spoke about the importance of globalization, with China becoming the leader in the new conditions, taking over the initiative from the United States. He mentioned the Third High-level Forum on International Cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road, «which gave new impetus to both global interconnectivity and the formation of an open world economy». What do you think of that, fathers of globalization and authors of the policy of endless sanctions?
The third essential condition for sustainable development is the so-called Western-born «green transition». «Facing growing challenges, in particular climate change, natural disasters, etc…, In the spirit of harmonious coexistence of man and nature, we should accelerate the green and low-carbon transformation of the development model, simultaneously promote the reduction of carbon emissions, eliminate pollution, build up green areas and promote growth, adequately implement the Bangkok goals on bio-circular green economy, and strengthen the ecological component for sustainable growth in the Asia-Pacific region», Xi Jinping said.
Moreover, China has far surpassed the West in this regard as well. «China is prioritizing ecology and green development, step by step fulfilling the goal of achieving peak emissions and carbon neutrality, and intensifying green transformation. We have put forward initiatives on green agricultural development, sustainable cities, energy low-carbon transformation, marine pollution prevention and elimination on the APEC platform to build a clean and beautiful APAC». As you know, China is working to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035, a goal set out in the founding documents of the CCP and the state.
According to Xi Jinping, global development is impossible without sharing the results of the work of everyone involved in the process. «I have repeatedly said that development is possible only when we develop together», — this is how it sounds in the words of the Chinese leader.
In other words, we can say that China has fully entered the global arena as a thought leader of global development, offering its plan and its concept.
And finally, on China’s role in this development: «Our country is confidently following the path of peaceful development. Our development is not aimed at displacing, let alone replacing anyone, but at ensuring a better life for our people. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the policy of reform and openness. We will relentlessly promote high-quality development and expand high-level openness, providing new opportunities for other countries in the world to modernize through China’s modernization. I am willing to work with you for new success in Asia-Pacific cooperation and for another “golden 30 years of the region».
And while the Chinese leader assures that his country is not seeking to «replace or displace anyone», that may happen on its own. A power that categorically rejects neocolonial policies and has never enslaved anyone could prove far more attractive than pseudo-democratic rivals.
Hopefully, Russia, which is an important and integral part of the Asia-Pacific region, will offer the region and the world something similar.