AMLO and Xi’s ‘positive, crucial’ talk at APEC

Historic Meeting Between AMLO and Xi Jinping at APEC: A Positive and Necessary Encounter

On November 16, 2023, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum served as the backdrop for a significant and affirmative meeting between the presidents of Mexico and China, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and Xi Jinping. Amid the concluding tenure of president AMLO and at the dawn of Xi Jinping’s third term, this marked the first instance the two leaders convened for bilateral talks, discussing various mutual interests and reinforcing the friendly ties and cooperation between Mexico and China.

The First-Ever Meeting: Bridging Relations

The historical face-to-face took place in San Francisco, California, gathering high-ranking officials from both nations. The one-hour discourse underscored the inherent friendship and bilateral cooperation existing between the two countries. The meeting comes as a strategic maneuver to solidify mutual interests, according to Dr. Natalia Rivera, coordinator of the Southeast Asian module of the Diploma in Asian Studies at the University Program for Asian and African Studies (PUEAA) at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

While this interaction arrives late in AMLO’s presidency, experts like Rivera highlight its timely significance as it could set the stage for continuity in Mexico-China relations, especially if the current governing party, Morena, remains in power after the subsequent election. The engagement channels a renewed interest between the involved states, vital for maintaining the trajectory of relevant bilateral issues.

Bilateral Ties and Addressed Topics

Officially inaugurated over half a century ago, 2023 marks the tenth anniversary of Mexico and China’s comprehensive strategic partnership. With both countries vying for the top spot as the United States’ leading trading partner, their relationship is sustained through diplomacy and product exchange, notably in mobile phones and copper minerals. In the first half of this year, China’s direct foreign investment (FDI) in Mexico amounted to a noteworthy $10.7 million, as per reports from the Mexican Secretary of Economy.

The dialogue covered pertinent issues affecting both nations, such as the ongoing fentanyl crisis, which the United States has attributed to China and Mexico. In a move to deepen bilateral cooperation in drug law enforcement, the Chinese embassy in Mexico announced that both leaders had reached an agreement to intensify their anti-drug efforts. Past pledges made by China, such as the reduction of fentanyl precursors, suggest forthcoming actions to address this critical concern.

Aside from narcotics, the discussions also delved into support measures that China could provide Mexico following the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Otis, which claimed about 50 lives. Xi Jinping’s administration has pledged to assist Mexico in acquiring medical supplies and construction materials to aid the affected population, demonstrating a significant gesture of goodwill and solidarity.

Potential for Growth and the Challenges Ahead

Despite the existing complexity in relations between Beijing and Washington, Aparicio contends that Mexico has not faced diplomatic issues with the United States regarding its closeness to China. Nevertheless, there’s an acknowledgment of possible complications, especially if the nations consider a free trade agreement. Article 32 of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement highlights that such an arrangement with an economy like China’s would warrant a review and potential denunciation of the existing treaty.

The path forward for Mexico and China could hinge on their embrace of emerging industries and infrastructure enhancement. There’s a consensus among experts that both nations have intentions to bolster cooperation in environmental-friendly industries and the fight against narcotics. Moreover, geopolitical changes, including China’s economic model shifts and Mexico’s need for infrastructural development, are likely to guide their collaborative efforts.

The encouraging dialogue at APEC suggests that an era of increased mutual engagement and trade lies ahead for Mexico and China. The articulation of shared goals aligned with geopolitical strategies sets the stage for deeper collaboration, potentially anchoring a more dynamic and integrated Asia-Pacific region.

The APEC event wraps up tomorrow, November 17, with President Obrador set to engage with various world leaders such as Joe Biden and discuss critical topics like migration and the outcomes from the Encuentro de Palenque strategy to reduce immigration flows into North America. Additionally, conversations with counterparts from Canada, Justin Trudeau, and Japan, Fumio Kishida, are anticipated.

Reported by Angélica Ferrer, Sputnik Mundo Correspondent in Mexico.

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