By Alex P. Vidal
“It’s important to stand up to all forms of bullying, and it’s even more important for those who are around you to be just as courageous and stand with you!”—Normani Kordei
PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. joined senior U.S. officials, ministers, thousands of delegates, business leaders, and journalists from across the Asia-Pacific region in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Week (AELW) in San Francisco, California from November 11-17.
Mr. Marcos Jr. may reportedly discuss the West Philippine Sea dispute during his engagement with US security officials at the Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii after the APEC Leaders’ Summit.
The Philippine president’s attendance in the APEC Summit came weeks after fresh tensions grip the West Philippine Sea, the part of South China Sea inside Manila’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, due to China’s aggressive acts, including preventing Filipino vessels from accessing the resource-rich area.
The Philippines accused the China Coast Guard (CCG) on November 10 of using a water cannon to prevent a routine resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre, a rusty ship that serves as a Philippine Navy installation at the Ayungin Shoal.
The incident happened weeks after CCG and maritime militia vessels hit Philippine Coast Guard ship BRP Cabra and Unaiza, a boat contracted by the Philippine military to conduct a resupply mission also in Ayungin, on May 2.
Mr. Marcos Jr. was hoping that with international pressure, China might be discouraged from further harassing our ships even China continued to ignore diplomatic protests from our foreign affairs authorities and the support from European and Asian countries, including the US.
President Joseph R. Biden was scheduled to welcome APEC economic leaders to highlight the strength and resilience of the U.S. economy, America’s longstanding economic ties with the Asia-Pacific, the surge of job-creating investments from APEC economies into the United States in recent years, and the role of the U.S. economy in driving growth and innovation in the Asia-Pacific and globally.
AELW in San Francisco concludes a productive series of meetings that were held in Honolulu, Hawaii (December 2022); Palm Springs, California (February); Detroit, Michigan (May); and Seattle, Washington (August).
Delegates from each of the 21 member economies take part in high-level meetings and side events with key stakeholders covering a wide range of topics, including: supply chain resilience; science, research, and innovation; critical and emerging technology; clean energy; high-standards infrastructure; women’s economic empowerment; and inclusivity.
Key ministerial and leaders’ meetings were scheduled to be held throughout the duration of AELW. U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen would chair the APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting from November 12-13.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and United States Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai would co-chair the APEC Ministerial Meeting from November 14-15.
President Biden would chair the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting from November 16-17 and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris would chair the ABAC Dialogue.
The United States would be further represented by: Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, who would support minister-level discussions on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity.
Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, who would lead discussions on climate issues with APEC member economies.
Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose W. Fernandez, who would deliver the U.S. intervention at the APEC Ministerial Meeting and provide opening remarks at the APEC Ministerial lunch on Anti-Corruption.
He would also meet with industry leaders to discuss the clean energy transition, the Mineral Security Partnership, and emerging technology.
Assistant Secretaries for the Bureaus of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Western Hemisphere Affairs, Economic and Business Affairs, and Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, each of whom will support meetings and lead discussions on APEC issues affecting their respective regions and areas of expertise.
U.S. Senior Official for APEC Ambassador Matt Murray, who would attend the Concluding Senior Officials’ Meeting and engage with counterparts and local stakeholders from diverse sectors to foster collaboration and achieve the United States’ host year goals of creating a more interconnected, innovative, and inclusive APEC region.
Special Representative for City and State Diplomacy Nina Hachigian, who would join discussions on how U.S. engagement with the Asia-Pacific region can best incorporate the voices of state and local governments.
Special Advisor on International Disability Rights Sara Minkara, who would engage with APEC partners at several side events across different sectors including academic, small business, Silicon Valley companies, and non-profit organizations to encourage further integration of disability inclusion and accessibility into their internal and external operations.
Special Representative for International Labor Affairs Kelly Fay Rodríguez, who would join Secretary Blinken, Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su, and Ambassador Tai for discussions that would commit the United States government to support independent unions and labor rights in the diplomatic and economic engagement around the world.
These meetings would lay the groundwork for continued cooperation in APEC following United States’ host year and would play a crucial role in solidifying this year’s APEC theme of “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All” for years to come.
The United States would also be passing the APEC host year responsibilities to Peru as the host of APEC in 2024. The US eagerly anticipates working alongside Peru to further our shared commitment to fostering international partnerships and advancing economic prosperity for the APEC region.
The United States, through the State Department, said was committed to hosting a productive and meaningful AELW and was looking forward to welcoming APEC economies to San Francisco to continue this important work.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)