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At APEC 2023, Lecturing and Self-Congratulation from the US

Travis Cunha

Nov 23, 2023

The 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) recently concluded in San Francisco, California, drawing global leaders to deliberate the future of economic endeavors. Comprising twenty-one members, including the United States, Russia, and China, APEC provided a unique platform for geopolitical adversaries to convene and engage. The summit culminated in a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden.

SF Gets a Facelift

Anticipating around 20,000 attendees, city officials seized on the summit as an opportunity to reshape San Francisco's narrative on crime and homelessness. The initial preparation for APEC involved clearing a downtown section and relocating numerous unhoused people to alternate areas (and providing many with temporary housing), then erecting fences behind them to prevent their return throughout the multi-day event. The cordoned central area was named the “Moscone Center.”

Many San Francisco residents were startled by the city's remarkable transformation, leading to the obvious question of whether the effort was solely directed at preventing embarrassment from the media when world leaders passed through. Governor Gavin Newsom dispelled any shred of doubt when he admitted the temporary cleanup had been solely for the event, and making clear that the city wouldn't maintain this level of "cleanliness" once the summit concluded.

At a press conference prior to the event Newsom said, "I know folks say, 'Oh, they're just cleaning up this place because all those fancy leaders are coming into town,' That's true, because it's true." Newsom continued in his usual politician-speak, "But it's also true [that], for months and months and months prior to APEC, we've been having different conversations. And we've raised the bar of expectation between the city, the county and the state, and our federal partners as well that we all have to do more and do better." 

While upscale hotels no doubt benefited from visiting dignitaries, the few remaining small businesses may struggle to recover from the local lockdown.

And despite the barricades and cleanup efforts, the city still grappled with crime. Members of a Czech news crew covering the event were assaulted and robbed at gunpoint, leaving several attendees to report feeling unsafe navigating the city streets.

Summit Highlights

During numerous discussions involving APEC ministers and leaders, a crucial summit unfolded between US President Joe Biden and China's Xi Jinping, purportedly aimed at easing tensions between the world's top economies. President Xi emerged as one who demonstrated maturity without the senility and expressed any genuine willingness to mend the currently rocky relationship between the two powers.

Although the two world leaders appeared cordial, they still clearly remained on different pages regarding the US's increasing meddling in the Chinese province of Taiwan.

President Xi's speech stressed the need for the United States and China to work together for global stability in the Asia-Pacific region. 

“We must say no to any attempt to politicize, weaponize, or impose security implications on economic and trade issues. We must remain unwavering to promote regional economic integration, accelerate the building of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, fully implement the APEC Connectivity Blueprint, and share in the opportunities of open regional development,” said President XI.

President Joe Biden’s speech largely ignored cooperation with China but included diatribes on topics from artificial intelligence to the creation of a “Women in the Sustainable Economy Initiative.” Biden said the initiative had already attracted a whopping $90 million dollars and would assist in “green industries like forest management, clean energy, fisheries, and recycling.” He also boasted about the US's supposed role in creating stable economies for the many member countries in the Pacific, without hinting at greater cooperation with the region's economic behemoth, China. 

In what has become an American tradition, the United States has continued its duplicity in its diplomacy and geopolitical maneuvers around Taiwan. While claiming to still adhere the “One China Policy”, Biden called Taiwan a self-governing nation and pledged continued financial and military support to the breakaway province of China. 

Following the conclusion of the APEC Summit, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen highlighted the two world leaders' differing views on the status of Taiwan. “President Xi did express the view that it’s important for Taiwan and mainland China to unify. He certainly expressed the desire to have that occur by peaceful means,” Yellen said on CNBC’s Squawk Box. “But President Biden said our policy remains unchanged from what it’s always been with respect to Taiwan.” Of course, President Xi and the Chinese people have little reason to believe the U.S. would ever continue adhering to the One China principle.

An anticlimactic and ominous conclusion

The final joint communiqué of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, comprising 21 economies including Russia, China, the US, and Australia, omitted any mention of the conflicts in Ukraine and occupied Palestine. However, a statement from the chair addended to the communiqué highlighted that the bloc had discussed perspectives on Israel's ongoing ethnic cleansing of Gaza. “Some leaders objected to the inclusion of this language in the accompanying 2023 APEC leaders’ Golden Gate Declaration on the basis that they do not believe that APEC is a forum to discuss geopolitical issues,” the chair’s statement said.

The ”Golden State Declaration,” unveiled on the closing day of the summit, operated as the joint statement from all member nations. Its sixteen points were more trite and empty promises made by the US through its institutions, consisting primarily of virtue-signaling on climate change and gender equality, and extolling the “free and open” trade among members. 

The 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit did not yield any profound agreements or meaningful cooperation, but merely underscored a widening diplomatic gulf between the United States and The People’s Republic of China.

Xi Jingping and China have continued to send strong signals to the US to halt its aggression and two-faced diplomacy and stop preventing humanity from progressing. But the American government just continues to pat itself on the back for proposing “goals” like preventing climate change and safeguarding sovereignty, while acting the primary obstacle. As the crisis of capitalism deepens and new world leaders are elected, the 2024 Summit in Peru will be the next stress test for failing US imperialism.

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