APEC Faux Pas

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit this past week, historical tensions and cultural differences caused high drama in front of the cameras. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum for 21 countries around the Pacific Rim. The countries summit to promote free trade and economic cooperation among themselves. It was established in 1989 to establish new markets for agricultural products and raw materials beyond Europe.[1]

During the summit, world leaders often pay respect to the hosting country by way of their dress and customs. This year’s summit in Beijing, China, was no exception. It is typical for press to analyze the actions and reactions of the political leaders to proposed actions and directions of political actions, but this year, the real drama at the Asia summit came from world leaders in front of the cameras.

Chinese President Xi Jinping played host, but his guests President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin committed some diplomatic faux pas.

#1: Nah, I’ll take my own:

Being the first Black President in the history of our country comes with a downside: the Obama campaign was the earliest time a candidate received secret service protection before even being officially nominated. Thus, it makes sense that the president would often opt to use his own armored limousine, dubbed “The Beast,” but this time it was seen as a slight.

“We made this meeting so luxurious, with singing and dancing, but see Obama, stepping out of his car chewing gum like an idler,” wrote a Chinese blogger. The general sentiment was that the move demonstrated a lack of confidence and consideration for China’s efforts.

Though Obama’s choice to ride in “The Beast” may be explainable, his next faux pas was not as easy to…swallow.

#2: Chew Into the Problem:

Obama is a known cigarette smoker, and has often been seen using Nicorette gum to curb his cravings; however, in the conservative environment that most Chinese citizens are used to, this was a MAJOR faux pas. According to USA Today, Chinese bloggers took to the internet once again after Obama was seen emerging from “The Beast” chewing gum. Some bloggers thought he looked like “an idler” or a “rapper” when he arrived at the event.

#3: Chivalry: It isn’t Dead, but it does sleep!

Finally, Putin was potentially the worst offender during the summit. During a party, the Russian President gently draped a shawl over the shoulders of the Chinese First Lady, Peng Liyuan. As any first lady would, Peng Liyuan accepted the shawl, but only momentarily. She can be seen on the video instantly looking for an aid to remove Putin’s shawl and replace it with her own.

Many consider the move a chivalrous one, but some Chinese saw it as flirtatious. As maybe an example of the sentiment felt by Chinese citizens, the government controlled Chinese media had erased any footage from the incident by the next morning.

This isn’t the first time that Putin has offered a shawl, however. He covered German Chancellor Merkel with a shawl at a previous G20 summit.

I’m so glad that we don’t live in China. I like that my President chews gum instead of smoking cigarette’s, and I’m all for men offering me shawls when I’m cold!

[1] Wiki APEC


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