Prayuth Chan-ocha says the region needs a new perspective as the war in Ukraine and the North Korean missile launch are cloud top.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has called on world leaders to focus on sustainable economic growth as geopolitical tensions over Ukraine and North Korea threatened to overshadow the region’s third back-to-back summit.

Prayuth, who hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Bangkok, said on Friday that countries should break from past practices to meet the challenges of the pandemic, climate change and geopolitical divisions.

“We can no longer live the way we did. We need to change our perspective, our way of life and our way of doing business,” Prayuth said at the opening of the two-day forum.

The meeting, which follows this week’s East Asia Summit in Cambodia and the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Bali, Indonesia, has brought together world leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, although neither the Neither US President Joe Biden nor Russian President Vladimir Putin are in attendance.

Biden, who is attending a family wedding, is represented by Vice President Kamala Harris, while Putin is represented by First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov.

While APEC is officially tasked with boosting economic development in the region, the meeting is expected to be dominated by geopolitical tensions over Russia’s war in Ukraine and North Korea’s latest launch of a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile.

Speaking in Bangkok on Friday, Kishida said Tokyo had issued a “strong protest” to Pyongyang’s latest test firing of a missile, which landed in waters off Japan’s northern prefecture of Hokkaido.

Harris and Kishida, along with leaders from South Korea, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, were scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on Friday about the launch, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported, citing a Japanese government source.

Russia’s war in Ukraine will also be high on the agenda as fighting exacerbates a cost-of-living crisis that has pushed inflation to four-decade highs in many countries.

Despite divisions over Russia’s role in the conflict, the G20 issued a statement on Thursday saying that a majority of members condemned “Russian aggression” in Ukraine, noting that there were “different views and different assessments”.

On Thursday, Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai expressed concern over a growing “cancellation mentality that pervades every conversation and action” and makes “any compromise seem impossible”.

“That is why APEC must rise above these challenges this year and give hope to the world at large that, together, there is room for us to prevail and prosper,” Don told finance officials on the sidelines of the forum.

Xi also warned on Thursday of a growing “Cold War mentality, hegemonism, unilateralism and protectionism” at a time of serious challenges to the global economy.

“Acts that distort international norms, distort economic links, inflate conflicts in regions and hinder development cooperation are all too common,” Xi said in pre-written remarks. “All this poses a serious challenge to peace and development in Asia and the Pacific.”

Established in 1989 to promote regional free trade and economic cooperation, APEC represents more than 60 percent of the world’s economy and nearly half of world trade.



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