Context: Chinese president hailed China as the pivot point for global free trade vowing to keep its “super-sized” economy open for business and warning against protectionism as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

More on the news:

  • The Chinese president was speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, held online this year.
  • Stand against protectionism: President said China will actively cooperate with all countries, regions, and enterprises that want to do so. It will continue to hold high the banner of openness and cooperation.


  • Changed equations: Chinese president’s rhetoric goes against its protectionism in which China has either restricted trade or used its giant economy as a bargaining chip in wider geopolitical disputes.
    • For example, Australian exports of beef, wine, and barley to China — their biggest market – have been restricted.
  • Global commerce: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership(RCEP), which excludes the US, is viewed as a major coup for China and further evidence that it is setting the agenda for global commerce as the US retreats.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

  • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific. 
  • Objective: To create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.
  • Members: APEC has 21 members.
    • The criterion for membership is that the members should be a separate economy, rather than a state.
    • The founding members were Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Indonesia; Japan; Korea; Malaysia; New Zealand; the Philippines; Singapore; Thailand; and the United States.
      • China; Hong Kong, China; and Chinese Taipei joined in 1991.
      • Mexico and Papua New Guinea in 1993.
      • Chile joined in 1994. And in 1998, Peru, Russia and Vietnam joined.
      •  3 official observers - ASEAN, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council.
    • India was invited to be an observer for the first time in November 2011. India is not in the grouping and has applied for membership

Source: APEC

  • Other details: 
    • APEC countries collectively account for nearly 50% of the world’s trade and about 57% of GDP. 
    • The creation of APEC was primarily in response to the increasing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies. 
    • Also, the proliferation of regional economic blocs, such as the European Union (EU) and the now-defunct, North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA), encouraged its formation.
    • In 1994 during the Bogor, Indonesia summit, APEC set the Bogor Goals of “free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialized economies and 2020 for developing economies.”