President Barack Obama is expected to focus on foreign policy with China at the 25th annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting this week. Though the forum is to focus on economic negotiations, world leaders often use it to discuss security and political issues on the sidelines.
Obama, who is to arrive in Bejing Monday, is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss various “sensitive” foreign policy issues, including cybersecurity, CNN reported. However, Obama’s main focus is to reach an agreement between countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries (TPP) while China pushes its own agreement, the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). Many say the president’s promise to focus on U.S. foreign policy with China has been unfulfilled in light of the many other global crises’ that have required his full attention.
"To put this crucial bilateral relationship back on track, President Obama and President Xi must use the summit in Beijing to deepen mutual understanding and publicly challenge these misperceptions," according to Brookings Institute senior foreign policy expert Cheng Li.
The Democratic Party’s defeat in the midterm elections could hinder Obama's performance at APEC. The U.S. has opposed China’s regional pact in favor of its own 12-nation agreement that now excludes the Chinese but includes Japan. If the TTP goes into effect, China could lose $1 billion a year in exports, according to Forbes. However, due to Obama’s poor performance during midterms, many say he will have less authority in trying to sway other governments to put the TPP into effect.
Obama also is to participate in a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot, who said he would take the opportunity at APEC to discuss the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
"I am going to have a very robust conversation with him," Abbot said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Abbot said he wants Putin’s word the world can expect full cooperation from Russia regarding the ongoing investigation to determine who was responsible for taking down the aircraft over eastern Ukraine during the summer. Thirty-eight Australians were among the 398 people killed when an anti-aircraft missile downed the commercial airliner on its way to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.
"Russia owes this to the families of the dead,” Abbot said. “It owes this to the wider world.”
Although Obama and Putin have no formal meeting planned, the possibility of the two leaders meeting on the fringes of APEC has not been ruled out.
“There's no formal bilateral meeting scheduled or planned, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they had some informal communication,” U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice told a press briefing Friday.
The president is set to visit Myanmar after Beijing. This will be Obama’s second visit to the country, formerly known as Burma, and he is the first U.S. sitting president to do so.