China: Discusses Economy, not Politics at APEC Summit

Posted September 7th, 2012 at 3:15 am (UTC-5)
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As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads to Russia for a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders, a Chinese state newspaper is warning Washington not to use the annual economic summit to focus on political differences.

Clinton heads Friday to the APEC summit in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok after wrapping up her six-nation tour of Asia that largely focused on the territorial disputes between China and several key U.S. allies.

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit is expected to highlight efforts to re-energize world and regional economic growth. The 21-member APEC forum accounts for 40 percent of the world's population, 54 percent of economic output and 44 percent of trade.

But conflicts in the South China Sea are also expected to be a priority for Clinton, to the displeasure of China. The Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper on Friday urged the U.S. not to use the summit to push political agendas such as territorial disputes, saying it could lead to quarrels and divisions.

Clinton and Chinese leaders appeared to make little progress on resolving their differences on the South China Sea disputes during two days of meetings in Beijing earlier this week. But on Thursday, Clinton promised to continue standing firm on U.S. interests, even if they differ from those of China.

Washington has urged Southeast Asian leaders to present a unified front in dealing with China. China prefers negotiating individually with each rival claimant, a position that gives it more strength. China claims nearly all of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea, an energy rich region that is also claimed in part by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

While in Russia, Clinton is also expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss views on how to stop bloodshed in Syria, where government forces are fighting an 18-month battle against rebels. The U.S. wants the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia opposes any foreign intervention.