Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), an inter-governmental forum for 21 member economies in the Asia-Pacific region, held a virtual summit this week addressing COVID-19 and its impact on the global economy. Hosted by Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the summit focused on how the bloc can mitigate the economic threat of the pandemic, while preserving public and global health.
The member countries, which comprise 60% of the global gross domestic product (GDP), have had vastly different responses to the pandemic, ranging from New Zealand's near elimination of the virus, to Mexico's rampant spread. Many of the countries in the bloc are currently engaged in tense bilateral relationships, including China, Australia, and the United States, although many countries are hopeful for an improvement in relations under President-elect Joe Biden.
This is the first APEC meeting since 2018, after last year's Chile summit was canceled due to domestic unrest. Underscoring tensions between China and the U.S. were Xi Jinping's comments against "'decoupling' or forming a small circle to keep others out." President Trump is participating for the first time since 2017, but he canceled his scheduled appearance at the APEC CEO meeting Friday. Read more on the current state of U.S.-China relations in Tao Wenzhao's latest article for China-US Focus.
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