Another APEC come and gone, dear readers, and oh, the stories we could tell. Or we did tell, for that matter.
We witnessed Xi Jinping glad-handing incoming world leaders with a smile and a reminder that China’s eloquently abbreviated FTAAP trade agreement was surely more valuable to the Pacific Rim than any old Trans-Pacific Partnership the US might be trying to drum up support for, and oh, never mind those nasty property numbers. Money managers certainly didn’t as they registered even more ETFs ahead of the Hong Kong-Shanghai market linkup, which one CY Leung promised was coming soon and which indeed, at long last, found a launch date in this coming Monday. Shanghai’s exchange, meanwhile, watched blue chips continue their ascent ever-skyward as mainland investors jockeyed for a shot at shares that could go stratospheric when foreign capital starts flowing in next week.
Not everyone was quite so gung-ho about Chinese investments — there was backpedaling as well, as Mexico scrapped a railway deal with China worth billions, and Sky Solar delayed its US IPO for the second time. Maybe it was just as well that all eyes were on Beijing, as the home team’s quarterly reports disappointed one after another, with even internet behemoths like Tencent and Sina coming up short. Perhaps netizens were busy elsewhere on the web; it was, after all, Singles Day, which this year saw Chinese consumers buy over $9 billion in goods over Alibaba’s TMall in the span of 14 hours.
And what would an APEC summit be without yet another suite of relatively meaningless announcements and photo-ops? First and foremost must have been the painfully awkward handshake between Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping, both looking as if he were clasping hands with a smelly leper. Meanwhile President Obama, perhaps smarting from ICBC’s decision to let Canada host his continent’s first yuan-clearing bank, announced visa validity extensions for that most hard-up of China’s cohorts: The long-suffering international tourist. That seemed to do the trick, as the very next day China and the US announced tech tariff reductions, followed by a joint statement on limiting emissions that one UN official charitably described as “heartening“.
International optics are all well and good, but what we really want to know is what was going through Putin’s head when he put the moves on Xi’s wife by ever-so-casually draping his jacket over her shoulders. To be fair, though, those Beijing nights can get pretty chilly.