When heads of state meet in the APEC summit in Manila on Tuesday, the agenda will no longer be limited to trade but most likely spill over to US and China relations in the Spratly’s.
Even the US President Barack Obama who confirmed attendance to the summit, declared to include in the talking points the controversial issue of China’s island – building in the South China Sea.
Twenty one states of the Pacific Rim economies will be meeting in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday and Thursday in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. China will be represented by no less than its President, Xi Jinping who announced earlier that it wanted the meeting to focus only on “free trade” within the region. The Philippines, a victim of China’s aggression and which pulled China in the United Nations tribunal had vowed to honor the demand.
But, not one country can just dictate the flow of the summit agenda and is not realistic according to the former US Ambassador to the Manila-based Asian Development Bank, Curtis S. Chin. Recent developments in US-China power struggles in the South China Sea, is a current issue besetting Asian countries claiming sovereignty over the disputed waters, shoals and atolls.
In addition, the terrors of terrorism, particularly the ISIS – driven carnage in France is an unwelcomed agenda but is likely to take center stage, on the ground that it is not a battle only facing France. But is a concern that is even more important and closely entangled with the economic pursuits of the APEC members.
While, China maintained its demand to limit the summit agenda to trade talks, there are avenues that leaders can discuss on the issue either in the formal or informal setting. However, the dispute in the South China Sea and maritime security and freedom of navigation are “central issues” of Obama’s attendance to the APEC summit.