This week’s APEC forum in Beijing was a very big deal for Xi Jinping and his government. Meticulously planned, packaged, and then presented to the Chinese people, this was another opportunity to demonstrate the Middle Kingdom’s ascent as a global power. Such demonstrations are becoming more important with each passing year as the CCP increasingly trumpets the narrative of a Party-led national rejuvenation, a ‘China dream.’
The Xi-Abe Handshake
The APEC forum provided a rare shared venue for the leaders of China and Japan, two countries that have been experiencing a pronounced chill in bilateral relations ever since the government in Tokyo purchased three of the disputed Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu in Chinese) from a private owner. Part of the pomp and ceremony of the summit was a handshake between President Xi and each of the attending leaders; including, much to Xi’s conspicuous displeasure, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. If we were to go on body language alone, the deadpan Xi ignoring Abe’s conversation before turning his back on the Japanese prime minister altogether, we can assume that the freeze will continue.