Biden tells APEC leaders US is committed to the region

President Joe Biden has told national leaders and CEOs attending the Asia-Pacific summit that the US is committed to high standards in trade and to partnerships that will benefit economies across the Pacific.

"We're not going anywhere," he declared.

Fresh from his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Biden also told business leaders that the US was "de-risking and diversifying" but not "decoupling." from Beijing. But he did not mince words in suggesting the US and friends in the Pacific could offer businesses a better option than China.

"We have real differences with Beijing when it comes to maintaining a fair and level economic playing field and protecting your intellectual property," Biden said.

China's President Xi Jinping at the  APEC summit
Joe Biden and China's leader Xi Jinping had four hours of talks ahead of the APEC summit.

The US president sought to send a clear message about American leadership as business leaders grapple with the risks of doing businesses in the midst of wars in the Middle East and Europe and a still shaky post-pandemic economy.

He was also spending time on Thursday letting Indo-Pacific leaders know that the US is committed to nurturing economic ties throughout the region.

Biden is courting world leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and through his administration's Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a group that includes most of the 21 APEC member economies and a few others, like India, that aren't members of the larger forum.

Biden told those who gathered at a welcome party that today's challenges were unlike those faced by previous APEC leaders.

He also sought to underscore that he was seeking to responsibly manage the United States' strained relationship with China.

"A stable relationship between the world's two largest economies is not merely good for the two economies but for the world," Biden said. "A stable relationship. It's good for everyone."

Demonstrations in and around APEC continued on Thursday. Protesters calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war were detained by police after shutting down all traffic over a major commuting bridge heading into San Francisco.

Police clearing protesters from the Bay Bridge, during APEC
The protest calling for a Middle East ceasefire blocked one of San Francisco's key commuter routes.

Police moved car to car arresting anti-Israel protesters as authorities slowly reopened the vital Bay Bridge.

The demonstrators hoisted signs saying "Stop The Genocide" and "No US Military Aid to Israel" as they blocked the key commuter route into the city.

As many as 250 officers detained protesters in zip ties, after the California Highway Patrol issued a dispersal order to the assembled group.

Authorities deployed tow trucks on the bridge to potentially remove cars that protesters used to quickly halt traffic when the demonstration began during morning rush hour.

The bridge demonstration follows several protests on Wednesday against  the Chinese President.

Meanwhile Xi  met with American business leaders on Wednesday evening.

"China is pursuing high-quality development, and the United States is revitalising its economy," he said, according to an English language translation. "There is plenty of room for our cooperation, and we are fully able to help each other succeed and achieve win-win outcomes."

Xi, though, was gloomier about the state of the post-pandemic global economy. China's economy remains in the doldrums, with prices falling due to slack demand from consumers and businesses.

"The global economy is recovering, but its momentum remains sluggish," Xi said. "Industrial and supply chains are still under the threat of interruption, and protectionism is rising. All these are grave problems."

The US hasn't hosted the annual leaders' summit — started in 1993 by President Bill Clinton -- since 2011. The group met virtually in 2020 and 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders did gather in Bangkok last year, but Biden skipped the summit because his granddaughter was getting married, and he sent Vice President Kamala Harris in his place.