Presidents Joe Biden, Xi Jinping participate virtually in APEC summit ahead of expected talks next week

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Nov. 12 (UPI) — U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping participated Friday in the virtual APEC summit hosted by New Zealand, and endorsed a plan to bolster economic recovery for Pacific Rim nations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden took part in the virtual summit of the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting on Friday morning.

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The U.S. president pledged American support for new efforts to benefit workers, families and businesses. One effort, the Aotearoa Plan of Action, received unanimous support at the summit.

“President Biden underscored his commitment to strengthening our relationship with APEC economies in order to advance fair and open trade and investment, bolster American competitiveness, and ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the White House said in a statement.

“The president noted that the United States has donated and shipped more than 220 million vaccine doses so far, including 64 million to APEC economies, and pledged that we will continue to share doses, invest in manufacturing abroad, and work with APEC economies to build global health security.”

Biden last addressed the APEC trade group in July, when he emphasized the importance of multilateral cooperation and reiterated U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

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Other topics discussed at Friday’s conference included cybersecurity, climate change, digital technologies and Internet security.

Beijing’s foreign ministry said earlier that Xi would also address the trade group on Friday.

Thursday, Xi urged the group not to single out any countries — amid expectations that Friday’s meeting could include efforts or dialog toward countering China’s influence in the region.

“We should be forward-looking, move ahead, and reject practices of discrimination and exclusion of others,” Xi said in a statement.

On Thursday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for political and business leaders to build a strong and sustainable COVID-19 recovery.

“As we prepare for the post-pandemic era, we need to continue to strengthen the partnership between government and business,” Ardern said in a statement.

“Together, we need to set the stage for an equitable, inclusive and sustainable recovery that invests in people and planet through fresh ideas and renewed resolve.”

APEC is comprised of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, the United States, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Peru, Russia and Vietnam.

Friday’s virtual summit comes ahead of an expected virtual bilateral meeting next week between Biden and Xi on Monday. The two leaders are expected to address a climate agreement reached at COP26 in Scotland and other items that have led to an increase in tensions, such as U.S. support for Taiwan.

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