Thursday, October 21, 2021

China formally applies to join Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation

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Image copyright West Valley Regional Public Affairs Agency Image caption China’s Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai, left, and Vice President Wang Qishan are shown at a bilateral meeting in July.

China has formally applied to join the 10-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) bloc, which is also spearheaded by the US.

President Donald Trump pulled America out of APEC at the end of last year.

APEC is a trade agreement that includes some members that were involved in US trade wars with China last year.

Other US-aligned leaders, such as Canada and Mexico, have said they will move ahead with a separate trade pact instead.

APEC’s 39th ministerial conference will take place in Vietnam next month.

‘Real leaders’

“The membership will eventually be expanded to include China,” said Chunling Dai, director of China’s Communist Party-backed APEC secretariat.

APEC established the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) last year, but with the US withdrawing from the trade deal it was unlikely to take full effect.

The other five participating nations – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile and Malaysia – are not signatories to the TPP, which Mr Trump pulled the US out of last week.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption President Donald Trump outside the White House with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Council on Foreign Relations Chairman Richard N. Haass and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

The TPP had been a strategic trading bloc designed to rebalance growth towards Asia, where it argues the US is at risk of being overtaken by China.

APEC is comprised of China, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Follow live coverage of the APEC meetings here

Carried out in meetings at non-binding meetings, members participate in forums, which can include broad-based summits or groupings of individual nations.

APEC secretariat director Chunling added that China had offered to launch talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the successor to the TPP.

She said the ruling Communist Party’s policy for APEC was to encourage deepening of ties, with the group focusing on solutions rather than confrontation.

“If it’s confrontation, it would only have led to more troubles,” she said.

“So this is a message from APEC, to real leaders, countries that do cooperate and make progress, like China, that APEC is for them, not for the West. It’s not a competition.”

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