Asia-Pacific leaders seek unity on war, economic ills, virus

Nov 16, 2022, 8:02 PM | Updated: Nov 18, 2022, 7:22 am

Protesters wear dinosaur costumes during a demonstration near the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation...

Protesters wear dinosaur costumes during a demonstration near the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum venue, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, in Bangkok Thailand. A small but noisy group of protesters scuffled briefly with police demanding to deliver a letter to leaders attending the summit demanding various causes including removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and abolition of Thailand's strict royal defamation laws. (AP Photo/Sarot Meksophawannakul)

(AP Photo/Sarot Meksophawannakul)

BANGKOK (AP) — Pacific Rim leaders were striving to find common ground on the war in Ukraine and other dire threats to humankind in an annual meeting that began Friday at a heavily guarded venue in Thailand’s capital.

The annual summit of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum is the last of three back-to-back meetings of world leaders in the region.

On Thursday, foreign and commerce ministers were completing their yearlong effort to form a consensus on an array of often-divisive issues.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he saw signs of a “convergence” in views about how to move forward in solving the world’s problems.

Whether that might enable Thailand as host of the meetings to produce a final joint statement remained to be seen: consensus generally is required among the 21 APEC members, including Russia. None of the earlier APEC preparatory meetings this year issued statements due to disagreements over whether to mention the conflict.

But leaders of the Group of 20 did manage a show of unity when China and India, after months of refusing to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, did not stand in the way of the release of a statement by the world’s leading economies that harshly criticized Moscow.

“At G-20, we really welcomed that we could have a joint statement,” said Yasuhiro Tsukamoto, a Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

Asked about the prospects for a show of unity, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he did not want to “get ahead” of the talks.

But, “on issue after issue we’re seeing, as I said, a growing convergence among the major countries in the world,” he told reporters after Thursday’s meetings.

The APEC meetings and earlier summits of the Group of 20 major economies on the Indonesian island resort of Bali and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia have brought together leaders who have had little opportunity to meet face-to-face since the pandemic began in 2020.

“It is such a relief for us to be able to go back to the conduct of business in the way that we know is most efficient and most productive,” Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, told a business conference held ahead of the APEC summit meetings. But he noted, “Dark clouds loom large if we are not to be prepared.”

The war in Ukraine has pushed food and energy prices sharply higher, disrupting supply chains and hindering the world’s recovery from the pandemic.

“The global economy faces mounting downward pressure and growing risks of recession,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in written remarks distributed to the business conference.

The Chinese economy has slowed sharply under restrictions meant to quash COVID-19 outbreaks. Xi warned against a “new Cold War” and attempts to dismantle supply chains built over decades, and called for strengthened cooperation and progress in achieving APEC’s vision of an open Asia-Pacific economy.

The threat of a coronavirus resurgence remains, with China reporting 23,276 new COVID-19 cases across the country on Thursday despite its costly and stringent “zero-COVID” policy. The southern metropolis of Guangzhou plans to build quarantine facilities with almost 250,000 beds to cope with outbreaks.

Xi stayed close to home throughout the pandemic, making his first trip outside China since it began only in September. But he has had a busy roster of meetings both in Bali and Bangkok, where much of the activity is on the sidelines of the summits.

Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met Thursday for what Kishida told reporters was a “candid and detailed discussion.”

“Because we are neighbors, there are various problems between Japan and China,” he said. But he added that “I think our talks today were a good start for us to pursue dialogue toward building constructive and stable Japan-China relations.”

Before the summit, Thai officials said they were hoping to steer APEC toward long-term solutions in various areas, including climate change, economic disruptions and faltering recoveries from the pandemic.

The APEC leaders meet formally in closed-door sessions on Friday and Saturday. For some, it will be at least the third such opportunity for face-to-face talks in the past two weeks. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is attending instead of President Joe Biden, who will be hosting his granddaughter’s wedding at the White House.

With both Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin absent, Xi is the star attendee in Bangkok.

Thailand hoped to have all members agree on a set of targets for meeting the challenges of climate change, promoting sustainable trade and investment and environmental goals,

The wording of any statement on Ukraine would be the “most challenging element of our negotiations,” said Cherdchai Chaivaivid, director-general of Thailand’s Department of International Economic Affairs.

“I am cautiously optimistic that we should be able to reach a good level of consensus. The thing is, are we going to reach consensus on every single issue in the draft or not? That remains to be answered by all senior officials working around the clock during the next few days,” Cherdchai said.

APEC members account for nearly four of every 10 people and almost half of world trade. Much of APEC’s work is technical and incremental, carried out by senior officials and ministers, covering areas such as trade, tourism, forestry, health, food, security, small and medium-size enterprises and women’s empowerment.

Members also include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

As host, Thailand invited three special guests to the meeting: French President Emmanuel Macron; Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the prime minister of Saudi Arabia; and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was to represent ASEAN but will not attend after getting COVID-19.

The APEC summit venue, at downtown Bangkok’s main convention center, was cordoned off with some streets in the area completely closed to traffic. Rows of riot police stood guard behind barricades at a major intersection nearby, underscoring Thailand’s determination to ensure no disruptions.

In recent years, Bangkok has seen a wave of large-scale protests aimed both at the government and the powerful monarchy, though they have faded under the pressures of the pandemic and targeted arrests of key figures.

A small but noisy group of protesters scuffled briefly with police Thursday demanding to deliver a letter to leaders attending the summit. The demonstrators back various causes including the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth and the abolition of Thailand’s strict anti-royal defamation laws.


Associated Press journalists Grant Peck, Krutika Pathi, Jerry Harmer and Tassanee Vejpongsa contributed to this report. Mari Yamaguchi contributed from Tokyo.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incid...

Associated Press

American Airlines CEO calls removal of Black passengers from Phoenix flight ‘unacceptable’

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incident in which several Black passengers were removed from a flight in Phoenix.

4 days ago

FILE - Crystal Baziel holds the Pan-African flag Monday, June 19, 2023, during Reedy Chapel A.M.E C...

Associated Press

The beginner’s guide to celebrating Juneteenth

For more than one-and-a-half centuries, the Juneteenth holiday has been sacred to many Black communities. It marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Since it was designated a federal […]

6 days ago

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

10 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

11 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

14 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

17 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Asia-Pacific leaders seek unity on war, economic ills, virus