MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Leaders from 21 countries and self-governing territories are in Manila for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. The meeting’s official agenda is focused on trade, business and economic issues but terrorism, South China Sea disputes and climate change are also set to be in focus. (All times are local.)
A copy of the APEC leaders’ declaration seen by The Associated Press says they “strongly condemn” all acts of terrorism and are stressing the “urgent need for increased international cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism.”
The statement is a rare departure from convention for APEC which typically prefers to focus on economic and business issues.
The leaders of the 21 Pacific Rim countries and self-governing territories that make up APEC say their meeting is being held in the shadow of terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and against a Russian aircraft over Sinai.
They say economic growth, prosperity and opportunity are among the most powerful tools to address the root causes of terrorism and radicalization.
A barricade of police, cargo containers and fire trucks blocks about 1,000 anti-globalization protesters marching on the venue of the APEC meeting in Manila.
Police are using water cannons and canes to try and disperse the increasingly rowdy protest.
Earlier about 100 students clashed with police at a public square, with the two sides pushing and shoving and police beating protesters with their batons after the students crossed over a security barricade.
The protesters carry banners that read “Junk APEC” and “Down with the Puppet U.S.-Aquino Regime.”
Protest leader Renato Reyes of the left-wing alliance Bayan says over the past two decades “APEC and imperialist globalization have only benefited the rich countries while further impoverishing developing countries like the Philippines.”
Protesters also marched toward a separate media center for the APEC meetings.
China’s president Xi Jinping and his APEC summit host Philippine president Benigno Aquino III have briefly met as the two days of leaders’ meetings officially begins.
According to presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma, Aquino said: “Welcome, President Xi! Thank you for coming to Manila and attending the APEC meeting.” He then gestured for Xi to join the other leaders.
China is at odds with the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations over China’s expansive claims to the South China Sea. The disputes are not part of the APEC agenda.
Meanwhile, Aquino and President Barack Obama have had a meeting and joint press conference and Obama has underlined his support for allies in the region such as the Philippines.
Police have thwarted activists dressed as animals from bringing climate change and animal rights to the attention of APEC leaders.
A “jeepney” vehicle full of PETA activists in full body animal costumes was making its way around Manila’s financial district Makati where President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders were speaking. But it was stopped by police before getting near the venue.
A kangaroo was holding a sign that read “I Am Not Leather” while a pig held a sign in Spanish “Stop Climate Change, Go Vegan.” A seal, a rat, a cow, and an elephant were also inside the jeepney, holding placards in various languages and waving to people on the streets.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals campaigner Ashley Fruno says “We were shocked that our event was stopped, as all we were doing was advocating for kindness and reminding APEC leaders and delegates that animal agriculture is a leading cause of climate change.”[Read more: APEC leaders discuss trade, climate change and terrorism amidst protests]
About two hundred protesters trying to march on the venues for APEC meetings are blocked by riot police.
Security is very tight in the Philippines capital as world leaders meet for two days as part of the APEC summit.
Protesters jostled with police and burnt a mock U.S. flag.
Vincent Crisostomo of anti-globalization group Anakbayan says “APEC is an enemy of the Filipino people.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping is seeking to reassure regional economic and political leaders that his government will keep the world’s No. 2 economy growing.
Xi told a business conference on the sidelines of the APEC summit that China is committed to reforming its economy and raising the living standards of its people.
He also said Beijing is stepping up efforts to counter climate change and clean up its environment.
Xi did not comment on South China Sea disputes.
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Source: Asian Correspondent