WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will join in Friday’s virtual summit of leaders in the Asia-Pacific region, a senior administration official said, making a rare appearance since Democrat Joe Biden was projected as the winner of the 2020 election.
Trump will not be making a formal address and will deliver comments in a slot not open to the public where leaders get about three minutes to speak to each other, according to the secretariat for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
The remarks at APEC come as Trump has mostly stayed out of public view in recent weeks. The president has refused to concede to Biden and been preoccupied with his team’s largely fruitless legal challenges designed to overturn his defeat.
Trump’s participation in the APEC summit would be his first since 2017, his first year in office and the only time he has addressed the gathering as president.
His administration faced criticism for not naming a presidential — or Cabinet-level — representative to last week’s virtual Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia summit meetings.
Fifteen nations signed a sweeping China-backed trade agreement on the sidelines of the latter meeting. The deal known as the Regional Comprehensive Partnership Agreement is the world’s largest free-trade agreement.
On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged in an APEC address that Beijing wouldn’t be decoupling itself from other world economies. Xi’s speech made no mention of the U.S. and offered passing allusions to mounting protectionism and unilateralism.
In an appeal that touched on several themes central to his own domestic agenda, Xi called on business leaders in Asia-Pacific to step up and show “broader vision, greater resilience and stronger entrepreneurship.” He urged them make the region a “pacesetter for innovation” and to “actively fulfill” their social responsibilities.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said Xi’s more forceful diplomatic strategy is having a negative impact on China.
“We need to work together as a world to say not only is it not in the world’s interest, it’s actually not in China’s interest to continue to behave in a way that’s trying to use its weight to get its way,” Trudeau said during an interview at an APEC event.
Prime Ministers Scott Morrison of Australia, Yoshihide Suga of Japan and Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand were among those slated to speak Friday.
This year’s APEC summit is being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the U.S. hardest of all other major countries.
Trump has blamed China for the outbreak and pledged to hold Beijing responsible. The president has said the pandemic soured his view of his “phase one” trade deal with China, which his aides previously touted as one of his top achievements.
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