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Xi urges investment in economic and technical cooperation in APEC address

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By Reuters
Biden, Xi to address Asia-Pacific leaders on trade, COVID recovery
Biden, Xi to address Asia-Pacific leaders on trade, COVID recovery   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

By Praveen Menon and Shashwat Awasthi

WELLINGTON -China’s President Xi Jinping on Friday told fellow Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders that economic and technological cooperation is important for the bloc and should receive further investment, Chinese state media reported.

Speaking via video link at the APEC leaders summit, which U.S. President Joe Biden was also expected to address, Xi also said China would “unswervingly” expand its opening up to the outside world and share China’s development opportunities with the world and Asia-Pacific countries, state broadcaster CCTV said.

The summit of the Pacific Rim countries comes amid heightened regional trade and geopolitical tensions, particularly between Chin and the United States.

It comes ahead of a much-anticipated online summit between Biden and Xi expected on Monday, as the superpowers look to prevent growing tensions between the world’s two biggest economies from spiralling toward conflict.

China set the tone for the 21 member APEC meeting this week, with Xi warning in a video recording on Thursday that the region must not return to the tensions of the Cold War era.

The comment was seen as a reference to efforts by the United States and its regional allies to blunt what they see as China’s growing coercive economic and military influence.

The White House said Biden would discuss ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and support global economic recovery.

“The President’s participation demonstrates U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and to multilateral cooperation,” it said in a statement.

Xi took the virtual podium a day after China’s ruling Communist Party approved a rare resolution that amplified his status and authority, bolstering the likelihood he would secure an unprecedented third leadership term next year.

Washington and Beijing have been sparring on issues from the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic to China’s expanding nuclear arsenal. U.S. officials believe direct engagement with Xi is the best way to prevent the relationship between the world’s two biggest economies from spiralling toward conflict.

Speaking ahead of the expected Biden-Xi meeting, a Chinese official said Beijing was also keen to avoid confrontation and focus on “positive competition,” while pushing for cooperation on issues such the climate crisis and ending the coronavirus pandemic.

A framework deal on boosting cooperation to tackle climate change, unveiled by the two countries at the U.N. climate conference in Scotland, sent “quite a positive signal” for the upcoming summit, the official said.

APEC is the last multi-lateral meeting of the year and comes after a flurry of gatherings including the high-profile G20 summit in Rome and the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow, Scotland.

APEC meetings in 2021 have been hosted entirely online due to host New Zealand’s hardline pandemic control measures and saw political and business leaders emphasize the need to fight COVID-19, decarbonise economies and grow sustainably.

During a session on Friday, German chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated the importance of vaccinations in the fight against the pandemic. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern then paid tribute to the outgoing chancellor.

The APEC summit will be held in Thailand next year.

The United States has offered to host the 2023 round of APEC meetings for the first time in over a decade, although a consensus has not been reached on this proposal, officials have said.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Canadian President Justin Trudeau are also expected to speak at the meeting.