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The leaders of China and the USA will “talk about global peace and development.” A delegation from Russia will also attend the summit. Meanwhile, mass demonstrations are taking place in San Francisco, asking participants to “prioritize people over the economy.”

It is no exaggeration to say that at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit, taking place from November 11 to 17 in San Francisco, California, everything revolves around the planned meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The White House has already announced that the US-China summit will take place on Wednesday, November 15, while Beijing only confirmed that it will take place face-to-face, without specifying the exact date.

In contrast with the Biden-Xi summit, everything fades into the background: from the sensational presence of the Russian delegation in San Francisco to the mass protests of environmentalists and supporters of the Palestinian cause, which take place day and night around the APEC summit venue.

The meeting between Biden and Xi Jinping takes place against the backdrop of both, frozen relations between China and the USA and a very difficult global situation – from the war in Ukraine to the war in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas. The two countries are at outs over many strategic issues, from the island of Taiwan to a tug-of-war over advanced technology and Chinese exports of strategic goods needed to produce many electronic components. Moreover, China, Russia’s main trade and economic partner, has never condemned Moscow for the war in Ukraine.

Washington emphasized President Biden’s desire to “put aside differences to stimulate the development of bilateral cooperation.” “Biden hopes to come to the negotiating table with Xi Jinping and work together with China on issues of mutual interest,” a senior US administration official said ahead of Wednesday’s bilateral meeting in San Francisco.

For its part, the Chinese Foreign Ministry reported that “on the sidelines of the APEC summit, the presidents of China and the USA will talk about global peace and development.” A year after the previous summit in November 2022, which took place on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, the two heads of state will “hold in-depth communication on strategic, overall issues, and the direction of China-US relations,” as well as on important issues related to global peace and development,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning. “China is not afraid of competition, but we are against China-US relations being defined in terms of competition,” emphasized Mao, who, in response to several questions about the expected meeting, urged Washington to “sincerely respect China’s reasonable concerns and legitimate right to development, rather than simply highlighting its own concerns and harming Beijing’s interests.” The Chinese diplomat also offered an olive branch to Washington, saying that “China does not seek to change the United States, and the United States should not seek to shape or change China either.”

The White House also said the two presidents will “discuss a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues, as well as ways to responsibly manage competition” and “stabilize” relations. The American president is expected to ask the Chinese leader to “reopen channels of military communication,” despite Beijing’s “resistance.” They will also discuss economic competition between the two superpowers and security issues that represent mutual interest.

But knowing Biden’s interlocutor well, the White House wanted to extend its hand forward, warning, however, “not to expect instant important and sensational results from the Biden-Xi summit.”

“If the United States and China cannot find a workable relationship, many global issues will be overlooked, whether we are talking about climate change or regional conflicts, such as the ongoing wars in the Middle East or Ukraine. If both sides do not carry dialogue on stable terms, coordination on these issues will be impossible,” said Patricia Kim, an expert on US-China relations at the Brookings Institution, in an interview with Euronews television.

For the first time since 2011, the United States is hosting the annual APEC summit. The leaders of the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member countries will meet in California to discuss, among other things, ways to advance economic growth in the Pacific region. Although APEC accounts for 62% of global GDP and almost 50% of trade, the US and China remain two of the world’s economic heavyweights: together they produce more than 40% of goods and services.

Amid controversy and protests, Russia will also attend the San Francisco summit. “The head of the delegation, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Government Alexei Overchuk will have the opportunity to fully participate in the events of the week,” said Matt Murray, head of the APEC section of the US State Department. But from a protocol standpoint, the American diplomat immediately clarified, “this will not be at the same level” as the heads of state and government who will take part in the summit in San Francisco. “We have always said that we want to be good hosts of APEC,” said Murray, according to whom “Russian participation will be carried out in accordance with US laws. The Russian Deputy Prime Minister is under EU sanctions, but is not the subject of US sanctions. In short, we can talk to him,” Murray said.

And as APEC leaders prepare to discuss economic growth, public opinion leaders in the US and around the world are calling for “prioritizing people over the economy.” Protesters, from anti-capitalists to supporters of the Palestinian cause, are roiling the streets of San Francisco on the eve of the summit. On Monday, November 13, several thousand activists marched through the center of this Californian city to ask APEC leaders to “stop subordinating the interests of mere mortals to the interests of the global economy.”

“APEC is a form of neoliberal colonial government,” told reporters Nick Evasco, one of the leaders of the popular protest. “We are here for them to put people and the planet at the center of the negotiations,” he said, explaining that “economic” activists were protesting particularly against “corporate profits, environmental abuses, and poor working conditions in many Asian and Pacific countries represented at this APEC summit.” And as San Francisco police said, “the protests also attracted many people in support of the Palestinian cause,” who called for “putting an end to genocide” in the Gaza Strip.

Giornalisti e Redattori di Pluralia

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