APEC marred by North Korea missile test

Several Asia-Pacific leaders gathered for an economic summit in the Thai capital have broken away from their meeting to condemn North Korea after it test fired an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Separately, police fired rubber bullets to disperse anti-government protesters in Bangkok as the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, was opening the conference.

US Vice President Kamala Harris called an emergency gathering of leaders from Australia, Japan, South Korea, Canada and New Zealand on the sidelines of the summit after North Korea carried out the missile test just an hour before its inauguration.

"This conduct by North Korea most recently is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions," she said at the meeting. "It destabilises security in the region, and unnecessarily raises tensions.

Thailand's Prayuth earlier urged participants at the summit to seek sustainable growth and development after economic and social challenges from COVID, climate change and geopolitical rivalries.

"We can no longer live like we did. We need to adjust our perspective, ways of life and ways of doing business," he said to an audience that included Harris and China's President Xi Jinping.

Established to promote economic integration, APEC groups 21 economies that account for 38 per cent of the global population, and 62 per cent of gross domestic product and 48 per cent of trade.

Prayuth did not refer to North Korea's missile, which Japanese officials said landed just 200km off Japan and had sufficient range to reach the mainland of the United States.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in Bangkok for the APEC meeting, told reporters North Korea had "repeated its provocations with unprecedented frequency".

Campaigners are keen to see leaders address food insecurity, surging inflation, climate change and human rights.

A reminder of grassroots demands came as Thai pro-democracy protesters clashed with police about 10km from the central Bangkok summit venue.

Videos on social media showed protesters trying to overturn a police car, throwing projectiles and charging at police, while officers in riot gear advanced on them with shields and beat them back with batons.

An official in charge of security for the summit said police fired rubber bullets to disperse about 350 anti-government protesters. Police said they arrested 10 people.

'French President Emmanuel Macron, a special guest at the summit, urged APEC leaders to re-embrace international rules and multilateralism for global peace and stability.

The Russian war in Ukraine was "an aggression against international rules", he said, and countries should pursue inclusive, sustainable development to address inequality and instability.

"We have to reform the DNA of our economies. All have accepted capitalism and trade but we have to make it more inclusive and sustainable," he said.

Xi, warning against Cold War tensions in a region that is a focus for competition between Beijing and Washington, said on Thursday the Asia-Pacific was no one's backyard and should not become an arena of big power rivalry,

"No attempt to wage a new cold war will ever be allowed by the people or by our times," Xi said in remarks at a business event linked to the summit.

Relations between the world's two largest economies have been strained in recent years over issues like tariffs, Taiwan, intellectual property, the erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy and disputes over the South China Sea.

In a move likely to be seen by China as provocative, a US official said Harris would visit the Philippine islands of Palawan on the edge of the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday.

China has dredged the sea floor to build harbours and airstrips on the Spratlys, parts of which are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.