The Latest: Philippine leader looks to China-led development

LIMA, Peru – The latest on the summit of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru (all times local):

6:50 p.m.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has promised his Chinese counterpart that he will align his foreign policy toward China-led Asian economic development, further reinforcing his shift toward China amid his hostile stance toward the U.S.

Duterte met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC summit in the Peruvian capital of Lima. He also talked to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, whom he has called his political idol.

Duterte first met Xi in a state visit to Beijing last month, where their governments forged mostly trade and economic accords. They also discussed longstanding territorial disputes in the South China Sea. After his China trip, Filipinos were allowed back to fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal, which Chinese coast guard vessels have guarded since seizing the rich fishing area in 2012.

In their meeting in Lima, Duterte told Xi that “we will co-operate with you.”

He added: “With my thrust of an independent foreign policy, we will find ourselves mutually agreeing in so many things and align our foreign policy towards the development of Asia, strengthening of ties among the countries in the region, with China leading the way in the economic development.”


5:50 p.m.

APEC summit host Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has managed to win a smile from the normally stern-faced Vladimir Putin by speaking to the Russian president in a foreign language the two leaders share: German.

With cameras rolling at the start of their one-on-one meeting, Kuczynski asked the Russian leader: “In what language should we speak?” Putin suggested the two speak in their native languages and use translators.

Kuczynski replied, “But you speak German.” That got a gleeful Putin to say, in fluent German, “Then we can speak Deutsch, if you prefer.”

Putin worked for the KGB in East Germany before the collapse of the Soviet Union, while Kuczynski is the son of Jewish doctor from Germany.


5:30 p.m.

Peru’s almost octogenarian president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, has had his first experience with virtual reality, trying it out during the annual meeting of the 21-nation Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Lima.

As he emerged groggy-eyed, he told Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: “I didn’t like the Tyrannosaurus Rex.”

Kuczynski tried out Facebook’s Oculus Rift virtual reality device headset in which dinosaurs, debris and crashing cars jump out at the participant.

It was an “incredible” experience, according to Kuczynski, who is better known for more sedate tastes like playing the classical flute and reading history books.

A video of the encounter posted by Kuczynski’s office on his social media site has gone viral, attracting more than 368,000 views. That is the most replays of any video provided by the president since he took office in July.

Afterward Kuczynski and Zuckerberg posed for a selfie, with the Facebook founder promising to help Peru boost internet connectivity in far-flung, rural parts of the South American country.


5 p.m.

And they’re off to Vietnam.

President Tran Dai Quang of Vietnam closed a meeting of business leaders in Peru by inviting them to his Southeast Asian nation in 2017 for the next meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum nations.

Leaders from APEC’s 21 nations have finished their speeches for Saturday and will gather later for a dinner at a downtown Lima park. But with the closure of the APEC CEO summit, most leaders will hide themselves in bilateral meetings and Sunday’s closed-door sessions.


12:15 p.m.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key says that if Donald Trump tries to withdraw the U.S. from trade deals, he shouldn’t expect the rest of the world to follow suit.

Speaking to business leaders, Key said he had sensed “tremendous despair” among attendees of the APEC summit about Trump’s position on trade. He said it’s still possible to save the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated by the Obama administration by introducing cosmetic changes making it acceptable to the incoming U.S. president or crafting a more limited pact among willing signatories that leaves out the U.S.

“Even if the United States doesn’t want to engage in free trade, President Trump needs to know other countries do,” said Key.


12 p.m.

Mexico’s president is taking a cautious approach to Donald Trump’s pledges to break up the North American Free Trade Agreement and build a wall to keep out millions of Latino immigrants.

Addressing business leaders at APEC, President Enrique Pena Nieto refused to antagonize the incoming U.S. president even as he strongly defended trade between the two countries.

He said the United States and Mexico ship to each other $1 million worth of goods every minute, generating benefits to companies and workers on both sides of the border that must not be jeopardized.

“In the face of Trump’s positioning, we’re now in a stage of favouring dialogue as a way to build a new agenda in our bilateral relationship,” Pena Nieto said. “Mexico, like the entire world, is about to initiate a new stage with the U.S. and in commercial terms we want to give the right value to this strategic relationship between Mexico and the U.S.”


10:30 a.m.

China’s President Xi Jinping is calling for a free trade agreement across the Asia-Pacific region to promote more equitable global growth.

Xi made the forceful call against protectionism in a keynote address to business leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Peru on Saturday.

Xi said that China has contributed to 40 per cent of global growth since the global financial crisis. China’s economy is now cooling as it seeks to rebalance growth away from exports to more domestic sources of growth, but it remains an engine of global growth.

Xi said that more than 700 million Chinese tourists will fan out across the globe in coming years and the country will invest billions abroad.

Still, he said the measure of globalization has to be an improvement in peoples’ lives and a reduction of poverty. He said a proposed free trade area encompassing all 21 APEC members can contribute to that goal.