, BEIJING, China, Nov 11 – President Xi Jinping pushed China’s road map for free trade as Asia-Pacific leaders held talks on Tuesday focused on narrowing differences over how to open up commerce across the vast and economically dynamic region.
US President Barack Obama, Xi, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – heads of the world’s three biggest economies – were among leaders attending the Beijing-hosted summit, held under the shadow of political and trade tensions.
China wants the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting to endorse a stronger commitment to the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) idea, a long-term APEC vision of open trade encompassing the whole region.
It would build on other initiatives including the US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but China’s firm advocacy of the plan over TPP has added to Sino-US trade competitions.
Xi told the summit’s opening session at a lakeside resort north of the capital that APEC should “break open the closed doors within the Asia Pacific” on trade.
“We should… push vigorously for the progress of the FTAAP, setting out clearly its targets, direction and roadmap and turn the desire into reality at an early date.”
Interactions between leaders appeared to echo geopolitical allegiances, with Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin nodding and smiling as leaders gathered, a day after they stressed their growing trade and diplomatic partnership.
Abe, however, was accorded only a perfunctory handshake by an unsmiling Xi.
China is embroiled in territorial and historic disputes with Japan, and Xi and Abe held their first top-level formal talks in nearly three years on Monday.