The 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit was hosted by China, in Beijing, on 11-12 November. Chinese President Xi Jinping emerged stronger as APEC accepted two important proposals that were pushed by China to widen its own sphere of influence.
India, which did not attend despite being invited to join as an observer, may have to consider the implications of China’s achievements at the summit. Pakistan and Bangladesh attended as observers.
Leaders of Asia-Pacific countries agreed to move towards a new free-trade zone strongly backed by China. The Beijing-supported Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) is regarded as a challenge to the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), the US trade pact that excludes China and Russia.
Though Obama said the US-backed TPP was not meant to contain China’s influence, it was clear China had created a powerful rival to it in the form of the FTAAP.
The 21-nation APEC also agreed to establish an anti-corruption network, which China needs more than any other country. Xi’s government is engaged in a major anti-graft crackdowns but feels hampered by some foreign countries that provide visas and residency to fleeing officials accused of swindling funds.
The Philippines, a US allay engaged in opposing China over the ownership of South China Sea islands, received largesse from Chinese functionaries. The presence of Japanese and Philippine leaders made it easy for China to deal with territorial disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea.
Beijing’s success in softening at least three territorial rivals — Japan, Philippines and Vietnam — has serious implications for India, which has a major border dispute with China.