China’s capital city has been bustling this past month in preparation for the 2014 iteration of the Economic Leaders’ Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, also known as APEC. This forum includes twenty-one countries from the Asia-Pacific region and seeks to promote trade and economic growth among its member states. The Economic Leaders’ Meeting is seen as one of the most important facets of APEC, as it includes high-level meetings between heads of state.
From November 5, Beijing will be hosting over twenty world leaders as they come together to discuss economic cooperation between their countries. In order to adequately prepare for this year’s summit, the Chinese government in Beijing has been implementing innovative measures to ensure that APEC leaders enjoy their experiences in China.
However, many in China are concerned that certain aspects of life in Beijing will cause problems during the APEC summit. In recent weeks, China’s northeastern region has been plagued by more frequent instances of air pollution that have created dense smog in many cities, including Beijing. This has caused numerous problems, most notably earlier this week during the annual Beijing Marathon. During the 26-mile-long race, runners were forced to perform under air quality conditions of 344 PM 2.5; this measurement is classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as hazardous for human health.
As exhibited during the 2008 Olympics, however, the Chinese government has developed numerous techniques to dispel the smog that plagues Beijing. Many expect that in the days leading up to the APEC summit, heavily polluting factories will either reduce their output or be closed. Additionally, municipal authorities have announced that driving restrictions will reduce Beijing’s traffic by 35% during APEC.
In addition to environmental preparations, the Chinese government is ramping up security in Beijing in anticipation of the APEC summit. In order to increase security efficiency, police have installed over one-thousand surveillance cameras in Beijing. These cameras are intended to provide the utmost safety and security for the heads of state attending the Economic Leaders’ Meeting, as well as to dissuade any potential protesters from interrupting the event.
Provided all events occur without incident at APEC this year, many around the world are anticipating great successes from the summit. American President Barack Obama’s attendance is highly anticipated, as he has made plans to engage in high-level sideline discussions with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as well as China’s preeminent leader Xi Jinping.
Many in Asia were also hoping that talks would occur between Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou, president of Taiwan. Although tensions between China and Taiwan remain high, trade relations have been increasingly friendly. Hopes of high-level talks during APEC were dashed, however, when President Ma condemned Xi Jinping’s handling of the continuing student protests in Hong Kong.
Overall, the 2014 iteration of the Economic Leaders’ Meeting of APEC is sure to bring about new trade agreements between many Asian countries. In a region marred by territorial dispute, it is heartening to see extensive economic cooperation. As Beijing continues to prepare for the summit, the world waits expectantly for results.