Opinion: Rhetoric and reality, APEC and the emperor's new clothes
Updated 16:33, 23-Nov-2018
Einar Tangen
Editor's note: Einar Tangen is a current affairs commentator. The article reflects the author's opinion and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation's (APEC) failure to issue a joint statement, for the first time in its 25-year history, is the latest in a series of signals sent by the U.S., indicating a determination to reorder the economic and political world around America, while it still has military, political and economic supremacy.
Despite strong direct statements from every leader who spoke about their commitment to a multilateral trade order which emphasized mutual benefit and rules based dispute resolution, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's speech was only about America First, an insistence on bilateral trade agreements and attacking China:
"China has “tremendous barriers”; they have “tremendous tariffs”; and, as we all know, their country engages in quotas, forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies on an unprecedented scale. Military increased arms sale resumption of conventional and nuclear arms races, said Pence. 
There were no specific examples given, just broad assertions, but such words although they could be forgiven will not be easily forgotten.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence waves during the APEC CEO Summit 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, November 17, 2018. /VCG Photo

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence waves during the APEC CEO Summit 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, November 17, 2018. /VCG Photo

In terms of a broader context, Pence's statements at APEC, which repeated his October 4 broadside against the world and China at the Hudson Institute:
• Military aggressive maritime patrols in the South China Seas, the termination of the Iran nuclear agreement, revocation of the short and medium nuclear missile treaty with Russia, and the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East
• Political assertions of “America First”, building walls and nativism
• Economic attacks against the foundations of globalism, withdrawal from the Paris Accord and TPP, attacks and sabotage aimed at the WTO and NATO and weaponize SWIFT and the unilateral imposition of tariffs.
Viewed this way, it is clear that there is an ongoing multi-pronged U.S. attack on the current world order. A world order which between 1991 and 2016 tripped the world's GDP, from under 24 trillion U.S. dollars to more than 75 trillion dollars, where one billion people were moved above the poverty line and two-thirds of all the profits made globally each year went to the U.S., EU and the other developed nations.
In 1991 Tim Berners-Lee introduced the Internet as a worldwide information superhighway, Boris Yeltsin was elected president of Russia, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was negotiated, the USSR began its internal dissolution, America invaded Iraq, Microsoft DOS 5.0 was introduced and the most popular and trusted show in America was "60 Minutes."
Today, the internet is everywhere and transforming the way we think, communicate and do business. Putin is Russia's President and presides over a country, which feels it was betrayed and humiliated by the promises, made on the floor of the Russian Duma, that there would be no economic and military expansion into former USSR countries, by the EU or NATO. 
The medium and short nuclear arms treaty with Russia has been unilaterally been canceled, putting the EU at increased risk. America is still in Iraq. Microsoft DOS 5.0 is a technological dinosaur and Donald Trump insists any news he doesn't like is “fake news.”
The world as we know it has changed dramatically and will continue to change geometrically, as technology impacts our world, but in the midst of change the constant is the need for communication. But today, the increasing gap between the rhetoric of populist demagogues and the realities of global trade and prosperity threatens the world as we know it. 
The world must not sleepwalk into tragedy. The majority of the world, by population, wealth and GDP is against becoming “Hunger Games” vassals to be bullied and crushed by a hegemonic overlord.
So the failure to reach, for the first time ever, even a simple watered down communique at APEC, may seem inconsequential, but it is one of a number of signals which indicates the emperor is not willing to listen and therefor a danger to the world we know.
(Cover photo: The Pacific Islands Countries informal Dialogue with APEC leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit is held at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, November 17, 2018. /VCG Photo)
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