World leaders to meet in marathon of summits in Asia

By Gaspar Ruiz-Canela

Bangkok, Nov 8 (EFE).- Southeast Asia will host world leaders from this week including those of the United States and China, in a diplomatic marathon with the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh, the G20 in Indonesia and the APEC economic forum in Bangkok, taking place amidst divisions and tensions.

The war in Ukraine, the rivalry between the US and China, food and energy insecurity and climate change are some of the most important topics of these meetings, which will begin with the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) from Friday to Sunday.

US President Joe Biden is scheduled to participate in the ASEAN and G20 summits, which will take place on Nov. 15 and Nov. 16 in Nusa Dua, Bali, where he could meet Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Biden will not attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum on Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 in Bangkok, where Xi is expected to go, while Russian President Vladimir Putin could attend the G20, although this remains unconfirmed.

Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has been invited to the G20 and is scheduled to speak in Phnom Penh by videoconference.

Representatives and leaders from the European Union and countries such as Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom will be present at one or more of these key summits.

The divisions and the tendency to create antagonistic blocs due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine have been the general tone this year in the various ministerial meetings of APEC and the G20, which have ended without joint communiques.

The war in Ukraine, in addition to a security risk due to the nuclear threat, has aggravated the world food and energy crisis, while last summer relations between China and the US deteriorated further due to Taiwan, an ally of Washington that Beijing considers a rogue province.

The ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute analyst in Singapore, Joanne Lin, told EFE that the summits are held “against the background of an increasingly uncertain world” with “challenges” to the international order, the growing Sino-American rivalry, inflation or problems with supply chains.

In any case, the expert points out that the result of the meetings, whether they are consensus statements or working documents, are usually agreed upon in advance, while the decisions that can be made need time to be implemented.

“Although meetings at the highest level serve to increase strategic trust through dialogue, it is unlikely that the world’s problems will be solved by a series of summits alone,” said Lin, coordinator of the Center for ASEAN Studies at ISEAS-Yusof.

“Different problems will have different priorities in the meetings. The G20 and APEC will be more focused on economic issues such as food security, energy transition, digital transformation, connectivity, inclusive economies, etc,” the analyst said.

ASEAN, which will include the East Asia summit, in which countries from Asia and Oceania and the US and Russia participate, will address issues such as the crisis in Myanmar, Ukraine, the disputes in the South China Sea and the missile crisis on the Korean peninsula.

In May, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand issued a joint statement in which they advocated that all countries and economies participating in the summits be able to dialogue to “bring peace, prosperity and sustainable and inclusive development.”

ASEAN, founded in 1967, is made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar.

Founded in 1989, APEC is made up of Australia, Brunei, Canada, China, Chile, South Korea, the US, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

The G20 is made up of Germany, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, South Korea, the US, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, the UK, South Africa, Turkey and the EU, and will have guest countries such as Spain, Holland, Fiji, Senegal and the United Arab Emirates. EFE


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