Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in China last week was eagerly watched by the world, and not just by those with business interests.
Apparently, a summit as formal as APEC can now be a source of amusement for the rest of us who can hardly understand economic jargon.
Hosted by Beijing, the 3-day event was attended by the leaders of top countries such as Japan, US, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Australia. Out of this year's summit came a number of jokes poking fun at world leaders no less. There's the Shawlgate (Vladimir Putin's chivalrous act of draping a shawl over the shoulder of Xi Jinping's wife), the gum-chewing of Barack Obama and of course those 'Star Trek' uniforms (we've heard they're actually traditional Chinese tunics but the rest of the world decided they are all cosplaying Trekkies ).
On a more serious note, China backed a free-trade deal for the Asia-Pacific region -- something that is anticipated to put her at the forefront of regional commerce.
The regional deal named the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) was originally from an APEC business panel, but despite prior comments from various leaders that this proposal could be a distraction, China still put it as a main agenda of the meeting -- marking the first time it has led such an initiative.
The delegates in turn issued an official statement agreeing to launch a committee that will conduct a 2-year study of the proposal.
China's Xi Jinping said, "This is a historic step in the direction of an Asia-Pacific free trade area." He added that APEC nations must actively promote this pact and "turn the vision into reality as soon as possible".
Hendren Global Group Top Facts sees this as counter move to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), US' own trade agreement with 12 nations, excluding China. The US is advocating the TPP as means to reroute commerce towards their way, while trying to put pressure to Beijing to conform to their trade practices. Obama himself believes that there's a momentum building in favor of TPP's completion.
It seems like an instrument to put China aside and weaken its economic condition, noted Hendren Global Group Top Facts. China's move to promote its own trade deal can perhaps lead to a new and stronger status in the region. It may say its motives does not include hurting the US but as the biggest trading partner a country can have in the region, it will inevitably chip away US influence.
Trade officials from the US are downplaying its supposed adverse effect to their country, saying that the two deals are not really competitors.
Obama does not seem to be worried as he iterates that the US "welcomes the rise of a prosperous, peaceful and stable China".
"We want China to do well," he added.