Xi and Obama Jockeying For Position At APEC Summit | THE POLITICUS

Xi and Obama Jockeying For Position At APEC Summit

The leaders of the Pacific rim nations are gathering in Beijing for the annual APEC summit meeting. There is no shortage of political drama associated with it. Putin is there making a bid to strengthen economic ties with China to offset the impact of economic sanctions imposed by the west. Abe and Xi have had a meeting making some very hesitant attempts at improving relations between China and Japan. However, the spotlight is on the competition between Xi and Obama as the leaders of the world's two largest economies who are clearly in competition with each other.

President Xi Jinping sought to counter U.S. efforts aimed at boosting influence in Asia by flexing China’s economic muscle days before a Beijing summit with his counterpart Barack Obama.

Speaking to executives at a CEO gathering in Beijing, Xi outlined how much the world stands to gain from a rising China. He said outbound investment will total $1.25 trillion over the next 10 years, 500 million Chinese tourists will go abroad, and the government will spend $40 billion to revive the ancient Silk Road trade route between Asia and Europe.

“China’s development will generate huge opportunities and benefits and hold lasting and infinite promise,” Xi said. “As China’s overall national strength grows, China will be both capable and willing to provide more public goods for the Asia Pacific and the world.”

China has used the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit under way in Beijing to put forward its own trade and economic proposals to strengthen its sway in Asia. Those incentives complement a greater assertiveness in territorial disputes and moves to upgrade its military after decades of U.S. dominance in the region.

Of particular interest are the competing proposals for regional trade pacts. The World Trade Organization has descended into the torpor of hopeless deadlock. That has given rise to efforts to negotiate various bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. Obama has been pushing the Trans Pacific Partnership which is a Pacific rim trade agreement which excludes China. Xi is pushing the  which is a Pacific rim trade agreement which leaves out the US.

The actual proposed terms of the TPP have been shrouded in secrecy. Leaked details have generated a great deal of controversy within the US and other nations. The core of that controversy is what appears to be an effort to establish trans-national control bodies which have the power to override powers of national sovereignty in terms of economic policy.

Both proposals have been floating around for a couple of years. All of the attention in the US has been focused on the TPP. This is the first I have heard of the RCEP. It sounds as though the smaller fry in the big pond are trying to juggle relations with both giants. They are making noises about wanting to join both agreements. With the shifts in the balance of US political power, it becomes questionable if Obama will be able to conclude the TPP negotiations in his remaining two years.

One thing which seems clear is that the center of global economic power has shifted from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Europe's power and leverage is on the decline. The international economic organizations such as the IMF and World bank still reflect the power relationships that prevailed at the end of WWII. The rapidly growing emerging economies are chafing at this. China is taking the lead in establishing alternative and competing organizations.  

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