Biden, Xi to front APEC on trade, COVID-19

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US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are poised to address APEC leaders amid heightened regional trade and geopolitical tensions.

China set the tone for the virtual 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting this week, with Xi warning in a video recording on Thursday the region must not return to the tensions of the Cold War era.

The comment was seen as a reference to efforts by the United States and its regional allies to blunt what they see as China's growing coercive economic and military influence.

Biden is expected to address the gathering that begins at midnight in New Zealand, the White House confirmed in a statement.

He will discuss ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and support global economic recovery.

"The President's participation demonstrates US commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and to multilateral co-operation," the White House statement said.

China's foreign ministry has confirmed that Xi will also speak via video link at the meeting.

Xi will take the virtual podium a day after China's ruling Communist Party approved a rare resolution that amplified his status and authority, bolstering the likelihood of him securing an unprecedented third leadership term next year.

The APEC gathering comes ahead of a much-anticipated online summit between Biden and Xi on Monday, as the super powers look to prevent growing tensions between the world's two biggest economies from spiralling towards conflict.

APEC is the last multi-lateral meeting of the year and comes after a flurry of gatherings including the high-profile G20 summit in Rome and the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow.

APEC in 2021 has been hosted entirely online due to host New Zealand's pandemic control measures, and saw political and business leaders emphasise the need to fight COVID-19, decarbonise economies and grow sustainably.

Next year's APEC summit will be held in Thailand.

The United States has offered to host the 2023 round of APEC meetings for the first time in more than a decade, although a consensus has not been reached on this proposal.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Canadian President Justin Trudeau are also expected to speak at the meeting.

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