(Reuters) – Leaders and heads of governments from the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have come to the Thai capital Bangkok for a meeting on Friday and Saturday.
As host, Thailand hopes to make progress on discussion of the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), but talks come amid geopolitical tensions over the war in Ukraine and regional flashpoints such as Taiwan and the Korean peninsula.
What is APEC?
APEC is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to promote economic integration. As a grouping, it makes up 38% of the global population, 62% of GDP and 48% of trade.
APEC’s 21 members are:
Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.
Here is a look at who is attending:
U.S. VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS
Harris is standing in for President Joe Biden. The United States will be the APEC host in 2023. After the meeting in Bangkok, Harris will travel to the Philippines. Her visit to the Philippines will be at the edge of the disputed South China Sea, a move that Beijing may see as a rebuke.
CHINA PRESIDENT XI JINPING
Xi met Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Bangkok on Thursday for talks. Kishida said he conveyed concerns over regional security to Xi amid growing tensions in Asia over China’s maritime ambitions. Xi was quoted by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV as telling Kishida that China and Japan should deepen trust, areas of cooperation and regional integration, and resist “conflict and confrontation”.
RUSSIA FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ANDREI BELOUSOV
Belousov will represent President Valadmir Putin at APEC. At an earlier APEC meeting in Bangkok this year, representatives from the United States and other countries walked out of a meeting in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine when Russian Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov was delivering remarks.
JAPAN PRIME MINISTER FUMIO KISHIDA
THAILAND PRIME MINISTER PRAYUTH CHAN-OCHAAs meetings kicked off, Thailand urged APEC members to “rise above differences” after geopolitical tensions dominated summits in Bali and Phnom Penh over the war in Ukraine. Prayuth said he wanted the talks to discuss how leaders can help transition to sustainable economic growth and development.
CANADA PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU
China’s leader appeared to confront Trudeau at the G20 summit in Bali on Wednesday after accusing him of leaking details from a closed-door meeting, a rare public display of annoyance by Xi. China’s foreign ministry on Thursday said Xi was not criticising Trudeau over the alleged leaks.
SOUTH KOREA PRIME MINISTER HAN DUCK-SOO
Prime Minister Han Duck-soo is expected to hold meetings with New Zealand and Peru, and also seek support for South Korea’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo, according to Yonhap.
MALAYSIA CHIEF SECRETARY GOVERNMENT ZUKI ALI
Malaysia is represented by its government secretary, with the country holding general elections on Nov. 19.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA PRIME MINISTER JAMES MARAPE
Marape will hold meetings with U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken.
MEXICAN AMBASSADOR TO THAILAND BERNARDO CORDOVA TELLO
The ambassador will represent President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT FERDINAND MARCOS JR
President Marcos will hold a bilateral meeting with China’s Xi and host U.S. Vice President Harris in Manila next week, with tensions over Taiwan on the agenda.
SINGAPORE PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG
Lee will hold bilateral meetings with China’s Xi
VIETNAM PRESIDENT NGUYEN XUAN PHUC
CHILE PRESIDENT GABRIEL BORIC FONT
INDONESIA PRESIDENT JOKO WIDODO
NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER JACINDA ARDERN
PERU VICE PRESIDENT DINA BOLUARTE
SULTAN OF BRUNEI HASSANAL BOLKIAH
AUSTRALIA PRIME MINISTER ANTHONY ALBANESE
HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE JOHN LEE KA-CHIU
CHINESE TAIPEI TSMC FOUNDER MORRIS CHANG
This year, host Thailand has also invited France and Saudi Arabia.
FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON
Macron is due to make a keynote address.
SAUDI ARABIA CROWN PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN
Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler’s visit comes as the relationship between Thailand and Saudi Arabia starts to normalise this year. For nearly three decades diplomatic ties had been frozen over “the Blue Diamond Affair”, as the theft of $20 million in jewellery by a Thai janitor is known.
(Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Ed Davies and Tom Hogue)