The 3-day Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (hereinafter referred to as APEC) summit ended last Thursday. It was a meeting intended to boost economic cooperation among the country members and attending countries. The local news reflected the fulfillment of this intent with news focused on increased military assistance and business investments. While the APEC summit undoubtedly accomplished economic cooperation, there remain some lingering issues which remain untouched…perhaps for diplomatic reasons, or because the host country has chosen to sweep such issues under the rug.
One of such issues is the continuing territorial squabble over the South China Sea and, by extension, China’s developing structures there – an explicit indication of their appropriation of the still internationally disputed area. China remained staunch on their stand that the APEC, being a meeting geared towards economic development, was not the proper venue to broach a political issue such as a territorial dispute. What China conveniently ignored is the root cause of the dispute: other Asian countries want a piece of the South China Sea because of the economic potential of the area. The economic aspect of the dispute has clearly been overshadowed by the political, and more threateningly urgent, angle because of the unequal powers yielded by the disputing countries. The dispute has turned political because China’s presumptuous moves has compelled the other disputing countries to seek shelter in the protective shield of their allies.
Another issue on uncharted territory concerns the locals who took to the streets to express their opposition to the APEC summit. These locals clashed with the authorities in an attempt to take their disdain within the vicinity of the meeting (on a side note, Manila was graced with nearly unbearable traffic for 3 days due to road closures to ensure the security of the heads of state as they paraded around the capital – a dilemma the APEC leaders may have been oblivious to unless they got to watch the local news).
The fierce opposition by the locals implies another untold story: they oppose the meeting because, whatever benefits the government may be reaping from it, does not trickle down to the rest of the population. They oppose the meeting because they feel the developing policies from such threaten the welfare of the local labor force – a sentiment which, founded or not, the national government has not taken steps to address.
These are the stories the national government chose not to tell so they could put up an impressive front to the international community. But these are the stories that indicate the real economic impact of the 2015 APEC summit.