THE administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino (P-Noy) is hosting the 23rd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Summit on Nov. 18-19. This is the second time the Philippines is venue for the gathering of 21 heads of “economies” that all belong to the world’s top 50.
The neo-liberal globalization jargon “economy”, instead of state or government, is used not just to accommodate Hong Kong and Taiwan. The word “economy” creates a false sense the summit is not a global political event. This is despite the fact that the world’s leading economic and military powers, the US, China, Russia and Japan, are members of Apec. Any major move by any of them, especially by the US, influences and can change the world situation.
Several earth-shaking developments have happened since 1996, the first time Apec Leaders’ Summit was held in the Philippines. That was years to 9/11, the start of “US War against Terror.” There were then no US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and no US-backed wars in East Ukraine and Yemen. There was no Islamic State (IS) yet, although the al Qaeda and Taliban were already known.
That was 19 years to the start of Russia-led “War against Islamic State (IS)”. It was 18 years before the simmering conflict in South China reached boiling point. It was 19 years before the US pointed at China and Russia as the challengers to the global order it has been shaping since the end of World War 2. That was 12 years to the 2008 outbreak of the global crisis that persists until now.
The seven-year crisis has further worsened. Since the outbreak of the crisis, every succeeding annual Apec Summit has been tense. In the 2014 summit in China, US President Obama held side meetings with heads of countries that were approved for membership in the China-less Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Apec 2015 comes on the heels of the signing of the draft agreement on TPP by 12 countries last Oct. 5. TPP is a US scheme to remain the dominant economy dictating the terms of global investment and trade. President Obama confirmed this to media, “Because if we (US) don’t, China would.”
The TPP is worse than critics expected. It would thoroughly liberalize and deregulate national economies for the greater freedom of movement and profit-making of leading American and Japanese private monopolists, especially in automobile, agriculture and pharmaceutical industries. TPP would make labor more flexible and deregulated, especially on wages and job security. It opens wider the gates for trade in services, which is mainly the traffic of skilled labor and professionals, whereby foreign investors can bring workers from their home bases to low-wage countries.
The stalled negotiations for TPP were activated and pushed by the US after 50 of 57 founding member-countries of China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) confirmed their membership in the signing ceremony in Beijing last June 29.
China-led AIIB is not in the purview of Apec though it certainly would matter in the coming summit. The US and Japan are not joining AIIB. It would surely compete with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank that the two countries dominate.
The US, a non-party to the dispute, has taken over and has raised the territorial row in the South China Sea among China, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan, to direct confrontation with China.
This, despite the case filed by the Philippines against China before the International Tribunal on Law of the Seas. Other claimants have done the same before, but China just ignored them. Now, on the eve of Apec 2015, China is passing on to the Philippines the burden of undoing the “troubles” arising from filing the case. --Emalyn M. Aliviano, spokesperson/organizer of Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya