China Power

China Still Looms Over APEC

Despite Japanese efforts, a meeting between Naoto Kan and Hu Jintao looks unlikely today.

The APEC leaders meeting began here in Yokohama today, and there's still no indication if Chinese President Hu Jintao will be meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on the sidelines. Japanese media sources I've spoken with here suggest that it's not looking likely today, but that Japan is still keen to set something up. So we'll see.

It's disappointing for Japan that this issue is overshadowing a meeting that it has gone to such extensive lengths to ensure runs smoothly. As Andy mentioned in Tokyo Notes earlier this week, the announcements on heightened security extend at least 100 miles from the venue, while across Tokyo the security presence has been beefed up significantly both in terms of police and security staff who have been drafted in to roam the trains. (Although I'm pleased to announce that the increased security hasn't come at the expense of the usual Japanese hospitality – it's the friendliest heavy security I've ever come across.)

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While Kan's team works behind the scenes to secure a meeting with Hu, in public, the Japanese hosts are keen to steer reporters back to the main themes of APEC this year, namely: assessing the achievements of the Bogor Goals and setting forth a future vision for the region, formulating an APEC growth strategy, presenting possible avenues toward a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and realising human security for a safe and secure society.
Tied to all this is the concept of the 'Yokohama Vision' (what Japan is hoping to achieve and what the leaders' declaration is likely to be called) although when pressed for details in a media briefing, Satoru Sato, Ministry of Foreign Affairs press secretary, seemed keen to tamp down any expectation that the Yokohama Vision is in any way visionary.
The first retreat session among the attending leaders has just finished, so I'll update if anything interesting has come up from that.