4 December 2023

False: Xi Jinping did not ‘skip’ the second photo op at APEC; it was only for IPEF member nations

The photo shoot was for the 14 nations of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, of which China is not a member. The IPEF meeting was held on the sidelines of APEC.


A series of tweets on X (formerly Twitter) in Chinese claimed on Nov. 17 that Chinese President Xi Jinping had skipped the second group photo at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Fransisco in the United States.

Some users speculated that because Xi felt insulted after being excluded from center stage during the earlier APEC group photo, he didn’t show up for the second one.

Another claimed Xi was upset after being referred to as a dictator by U.S. President Joe Biden. One user said Biden was shocked by Xi’s absence.

Altogether, the tweets gained over 1,800 likes and 230 retweets within hours of posting. However, these claims are all false.

The second group photo was for the 14 member nations under the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), of which China is not a member. The leader’s meeting of IPEF was held on the sidelines of the APEC.

Keyword search results returned a White House YouTube video uploaded on Nov. 17 titled, “President Biden Delivers Remarks & Participates in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework Family Photo.” It featured the same event as seen in the tweets.

Other than the identical objects seen in both videos, the 14 flags are also lined up in the same order.

The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity is a regional arrangement for economic cooperation between 14 Indo-Pacific countries, namely Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam, according to a website by the Australian government.

Their national flags were displayed in front of the backdrop for the photo opportunity. Naturally, flags of non-member countries such as Canada and China were not shown.

Other economic and political leaders in the APEC summit who were not in the IPEF photo include Paul Chan Mo-po from Hong Kong and Justin Trudeau from Canada.

Screenshot of the video used in the tweets showing 14 flags and the leaders of IEPF member nations.

This was Xi’s first trip to the U.S. in six years. He and Biden met on the sideline and reportedly reached agreements covering fentanyl, military communications, and artificial intelligence.