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The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit opened in Thailand on Friday with the war in Ukraine and North Korean missiles in the background. Invited, the French president pleaded against “hegemony” and for “stability” in Asia-Pacific.
Last highlight of a busy diplomatic sequence in the region, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit kicked off on Friday, November 18 in Bangkok (Thailand). This is the first face-to-face meeting since 2018, for the leaders of the 21 member states who are due to exchange until Saturday.
The French president, the first European leader to go to this summit since its creation in 1989, and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed ben Salmane are the guests of Apec.
At the opening, Emmanuel Macron pleaded against “hegemony” and “confrontation”. “We believe in stability, we believe in innovation.”
Two absences are noted: that of US President Joe Biden, retained in Washington for the wedding of his granddaughter, and represented by Vice-President Kamala Harris, and of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
For the occasion, 30,000 Thai police were deployed in the streets of the capital and schools were closed for 3 days.
A context of high tensions
The summit program is dominated by the economic consequences of the conflict in Ukraine, which the countries of the South deplore without condemning the Russian invasion, and questions of regional stability, between North Korea and recurring disputes in the South and East China Seas.
Just before the start of the summit, Pyongyang launched another missile, which appears to have fallen into the sea inside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), according to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The latter had raised Thursday with Chinese President Xi Jinping his “serious concerns” about the situation in the East China Sea, where Tokyo regularly complains about Beijing’s activity around the Senkaku Islands.
The Chinese leader, for his part, insisted that Asia-Pacific “was no one’s garden” in written remarks at an economic summit on the sidelines of Apec, a veiled allusion to his American rival who also deploy in the region. In Bangkok, where he continues his diplomatic marathon started at the G20, Xi Jinping takes center stage.
The Apec summit closes a diplomatic sequence of ten intense days in Southeast Asia, after a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh and the G20 on the Indonesian island of Bali.