If you want to ruin the entire world economy – continue in the same spirit. A group of Western countries led by the United States listened to this for the third time in a week in the third Asian capital: first there was a conference – the East Asia Summit in Cambodia, then a meeting of the group of twenty leading economies in Indonesia, and now a series of APEC events in Thailand.
A conference is a one-time exchange of views, a clarification of positions with or without a final document, so in such cases clashes of opinions often occur without concrete consequences. APEC operates on different principles, so the result of the current Bangkok meetings is more difficult to see, but it is more effective.
The fact is that APEC is a powerful branched organization of the 21st economy, that is, of all those who frame the Pacific Ocean or fit inside it. And this organization works with many meetings and commissions all year round – exclusively in the economic sphere, coming up with new measures and rules so that nothing in this region interferes with trade, investment and business in general. These rules become laws or instructions either in all, or only in some economies, but in any case, this thing works, making the Asia- Pacific region the main engine of world development. And the annual forums with two summits crowning them (of business people and political leaders) are only an external part of the process.
There are two reasons why the “Western” – including Japan or Australia – members of APEC did not turn the Bangkok meeting into another show about Ukraine. The first is that it has nothing to do with the Pacific Ocean. And the second is that Westerners already knew from their experience in Cambodia and Indonesia what would happen then. Therefore, the final document of 23 common and little meaningful points in Bangkokstates th-at according to the Ukra-inian story, some spoke like this, while others said that. But right after that comes the key phrase: “While recognizing that APEC is not the forum for resolving security issues, we recognize that security issues can have important implications for the global economy.” And further: “We reaffirm our determination to create a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, inclusive and predictable environment for trade and investment.”
And here is the main nerve of everything that happened on the forum. The fact is that APEC is like a sleeping person who has just woken up and, looking around, was horrified. In 2019, there was no forum, because in the host country – Chile – there were all sorts of purely local troubles. And then the brutal methods of combating the pandemic smashed the global economy almost to its complete collapse – with a break in supply chains, a slowdown in production, and many other misfortu-nes. In conclusion, the Wes-tern group of states (on the principle of “pogrom – so pogrom”) attacked Russia, provoking a conflict in Ukraine and undermining the entire world economy with sanctions, but before that they imposed (without any Ukraine) very similar sanctions against the Pacific state – China.
That is, APEC used to be engaged in the long and painful removal of any obstacles to business in the vast region, and now it sees that one key Pacific economy – the United States – attacked another key economy in the region – China – and requires everyone to curtail or limit ties with the latter.
And here we see one of the many episodes in Ban-gkok, where, after Indon-esia, the genius of the conjuncture, who has no direct relation to APEC, French President Emmanuel Macron was not too lazy to come and declare there: more and more countries are being put in such a position that they have to choose between adherence to Beijing or Washington, “and that’s a huge mistake.”
The second episode is what happened to US Vice President Kamala Harris there. She came there to change President Joe Biden, who was tired back in Indonesia (or much earlier). In keeping with American tradition, the main points of her speech at the leaders’ meeting were leaked to the media in advance. But when it came to the speech as such, it turned out that the sharp corners were rounded, she did not even name China directly, mainly talking about how “there is no better partner for the region than the United States.”
As a result, China ruled the Pacific waves. Everyo-ne remembered – and the forgetful were reminded – that China built a free trade area in the region (RCEP), which was launched this year, where its trade for eight months of the year reached 1.2 trillion dollars, or that with the region as a whole, this trade amounted to 2.87 trillion before the current troubles began.
Xi Jinping proved to be an undeniable beacon of hope for those assembled. In one of his speeches, he tried to live up to expectations by saying that the region is no one’s backyard and should not become an arena for the competition of big powers. “No attempt to wage a new cold war should be allowed by the people and our time,” he said, adding that “one-sidedness and protectionism, any attempt to politicize and weaponize economic and trade relations must be rejected.” Yes, this is about any and all sanctions – with or without a reason.
The question arises: so what in the end? If we talk only about APEC, then the essence of the matter is that this mechanism woke up after three years of non-existence and began to work at full capacity. All sorts of programs to remove ever new barriers between economies have begun to accelerate again, which, of course, goes against the plan of the United States and allies to divide the world economy into two systems, as during the Cold War. This is reminiscent of the behavior of ants after someone poked a stick into their common home: they all run and carry small straws in their jaws to return everything to the way it was.
The further fate of APEC is in question, since the chairmanship is passing to the United States, and they know how to impose only their programs on the region – such as the sacred “green transition” of the world to the Stone Age. It’s another matter whether three warnings from the crowd gathered in three Asian capitals at once are enough for them and their allies to understand that their new cold war has gone wrong.