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Police, protester clash at APEC summit as Macron urges end to US-China row

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Demonstrators holds signs as they take part in a protest against the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit 2022, near the Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand November 18, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Thai riot police on Friday fired rubber bullets and tear gas to foil a protest rally against the country's hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok.

Hundreds of protesters staged a rally and clashed with police forces about 10 kilometers from the venue of the summit where leaders of the member countries are meeting, a police official in charge of the event's security task force, Ashyan Kraithong, was quoted as saying.

Police arrested at least 10 protesters, according to Ashyan, alleging that they “broke the law [and] physically assaulted police officers," while five other officers were injured in the ensuing clashes.

Images shared on social media showed protesters trying to overturn a police car, throwing projectiles, and charging at police officers in riot gear as they attacked the demonstrators with shields and beat them with batons.

Youth activist Patsaravalee 'Mind' Tanakitvibulpon, who took part in the protest rally, stated that people were protesting against the APEC summit and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

"The police have overreacted,” he said. “They are using rubber bullets on us and tried to stop us many times."

France rejects 'confrontation' in Asia, Macron claims

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron called for an end to "confrontation" in the region as he outlined his vision for his government’s engagement with the Asia-Pacific region on the sidelines of the 21-member APEC summit underway in Bangkok.

"We don't believe in hegemony, we don't believe in confrontation, we believe in stability," Macron said, insisting that countries such as France -- which controls overseas colonized territories in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, including Reunion, New Caledonia, and French Polynesia -- should play a role.

Macron is attending the APEC summit as a representative of a non-member nation, seeking to re-launch Paris’s strategy for the region in the face of an escalating US-China confrontation.

France intends to play a “stabilizing” role in the region – far from the European country -- to avert confrontation, Macron asserted during a meeting of business leaders at the APEC confab.

"We are in the jungle and we have two big elephants, trying to become more and more nervous," Macron asserted in his speech -- which he gave in English – in an apparent reference to China and the US.

"If they become very nervous and start a war it will be a big problem for the rest of the jungle...You need the cooperation of a lot of other animals: tigers, monkeys, and so on."

He said the international community was facing overlapping crises, from climate change to economic turmoil, and a coordinated response was needed, boasting: "Our Indo-Pacific strategy is how to provide dynamic balance in this environment."

"How to provide precisely a sort of stability and equilibrium which could not be the hegemony of one of those, could not be the confrontation of the two major powers," Macron insisted.

He described the ongoing Ukraine war as a major source of global instability, saying that all countries in Asia and elsewhere needed to recognize their duty to act, without elaborating.

Macron then claimed that Paris was working to build "an increasing consensus in order to say this war is also your problem because it will create a lot of destabilization."

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