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MANILA, Philippines – Starting Saturday, November 11, and most of Sunday, November 12, country leaders from all over the world arrived here for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits.
While ASEAN itself is composed of only 10 countries, it has over 10 “dialogue partners” or countries from outside the region with which ASEAN countries work on all types of issues – economy, trade, security, sustainable development, and more.
We’ve introduced to you the 10 leaders of ASEAN member-countries. Now, get to know the leaders of countries which ASEAN considers as its allies. (IN PHOTOS: How Duterte bonded with ASEAN leaders)
United States President Donald Trump
As the leader of the most powerful country in the world, Trump is among the most awaited participants of the ASEAN Summit. Trump’s shocking victory in the 2016 elections made headlines all over the world. He has continued to draw strong reactions owing to the many controversies hounding his administration – from the probe into Russian poll meddling to his anti-immigration policies.
From Wharton Business School in the 70s, Trump built his empire on what he said was a “small loan of a million dollars” from his father. He also set up entertainment units such as the Miss Universe, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and the popular TV show, The Apprentice.
He first floated the idea of running for president in 1999, when he quit the Republican Party, and jumped ship to the Reform Party.
The current American First Lady, Melania, is Trump’s 3rd wife. He has 5 children, the most famous of whom is businesswoman and now presidential adviser, Ivanka Trump.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
At 45, the Canadian leader is among the youngest heads of government attending the ASEAN Summit.
His father is former prime minister Pierre Trudaeu. He earned the admiration of a worldwide audience when he implemented new policies deemed progressive. For one, he appointed ministers in his Cabinet from diverse ethnicities. For the first time in Canadian history, his Cabinet had an equal balance of men and women. Trudeau also stepped up accommodation to immigrants, including those fleeing war and conflict. In the face of a travel ban by Trump in the US, Trudeau announced an open door.
But this was tested when his government started to scramble acommodating new asylum-seekers. Trudeau was forced to tone down his rhetoric and warned against illegal entries. More recently, he was accused of sabotaging the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal intended to counter China’s domination in the region.
He is married to television and radio host Sophie Grégoire, with whom he has 3 children. With his youth and boyish good looks, Trudeau always stands out in a crowd of world leaders. Hours after arriving in Manila, he even visited a local Jollibee fastfood branch and a women’s advocacy center. Another fun fact: he’s into yoga.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
The 63-year-old Abe is post-war Japan’s 3rd longest serving prime minister. He hails from a prominent political family. His grandfather on his mother’s side, Nobusuke Kishi, was Japan’s prime minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960.
His great-uncle Eisaku Satō was also prime minister, while his father served as foreign minister.
Abe’s wife Akie is said to be even more popular than her husband for her candid personality and liberal views (she once joined Tokyo’s gay parade, posing in a float with a drag queen).
Abe is fresh from a landslide victory in snap elections held on October 22. He was the one who called for the polls, seeking a clean slate after he was hit by cronyism scandals. This was also during the time there were increasing threats from North Korea.
Abe’s victory puts him on course to becoming the longest-serving post-war Japanese leader.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in
South Korea’s leader for only 6 months, President Moon was voted into power after the impeachment of Park Geun-hye. The 64-year-old may be calm and unassuming, but he has vowed swift military response should North Korea attack his country with its nuclear weapons.
Moon is a staunch human rights advocate, setting up a law firm in the 80s that focused on human and civil rights.
He was born to poor North Korean refugees and was among those who led the protests in the 70s against Park Chung Hee’s authoritarian rule.
He finished studying law and took the bar inside prison.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern’s rise to the prime ministership in New Zealand has been meteoric: at the start of 2017, she was just a member of the opposition in Parliament; now, she has become the country’s youngest leader since 1856.
The woman behind “Jacinda-mania” is a career politician who describes herself as a policy nerd and says she always envisaged herself working behind the scenes, not running for the top job.
She ran on a campaign of making tertriary education free and decriminalizing abortion.
Her partner is television presenter Clarke Gayford, who told local press that they will surely get married “at some stage.”
For starters, Ardner is out of the box when it comes to domestic roles. Asked about her plans to have a baby, Ardern called it out as a sexist question.
European Council President Donald Tusk
Before becoming the President of the European Council, the top policy-making body of the European Union, Donald Tusk was a historian and politician, serving as the Prime Minister of Poland from 2007-2014.
Under his leadership, the bloc has faced a number of major issues, from Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, the refugee crisis, numerous terror crises, and now, the looming exit of the United Kingdom from the 28-nation group.
Tusk is the son of a carpenter and a nurse, and was born in the city of Gdansk. As a history student there, he joined opposition movements to the communist regime.
Tusk’s grandfather spent time in a concentration camp during the Nazi regime, and was forced to join a Hitler army. His political opponents used this family history to discredit him, but he still went on to become prime minister.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres
The former prime minister of Portugal assumed the position of United Nations Secretary General at the start of 2017, succeeding two-term chief Ban Ki-Moon. Antonio Guterres has a decades-long career as an academic, and then as politician – becoming Portuguese leader in 1995.
Guterres is a man of both science and religion. He studied engineering and physics, and went on to teach the subjects as a university lecturer. But he is also a Catholic, and is believed to have opposed the relaxation of abortion laws in Portugal.
Guterres spent some time as the UN’s high commissioner for refugees.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Turnbull will have to go into meetings at the ASEAN Summit with troubling matters in his mind – Australia is grappling with the loss of its members of parliament (MPs) due to citizenship issues.
A provision in the Australian constitution bars individuals with other foreign citizenships from getting elected into office. Australia is considered a country of immigrants, and it’s only now that some of them are discovering they carry the citizenship of the countries where they were born or where their parents were born.
The crisis has kicked out the deputy prime minister and forced resignations, in that Turnbull has now lost majority of his MPs.
Turnbull was elected in 2015. He is a career politician who has served in various capacities. Before that, he was a noted lawyer and then a businessman who found success in technology. He is considered one of Australia’s richest politicians.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Modi survived political turmoils to win the general elections in 2014 and become India’s prime minister.
He was the chief minister of Gujarat in 2002 when religious riots shook the western Indian state. More than 1,000 people died, most of whom were Muslims.
Modi was accused of being accountable for the killings, and was investigated by a committee created by the Indian Supreme Court. He was eventually cleared, but he suffered the tough consequences of the charges.
Both the US and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on him. But these have all changed now.
Terrorism and poverty alleviation are his agenda coming into the 31st ASEAN Summit.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang
Li is the first Chinese premier to visit the Philippines in 10 years.
The premier is the 2nd top position in China. But although the President is considered the leader, he and the premier and the members of the Standing Committee are considered equals.
The Standing Committee of the Politburo is China’s top leadership body and their consensus is needed before a decision is made. The committee is composed of two factions, the princelings who are children of former top officials and the Communist Youth League Faction, where Li belongs.
The South China Morning Post calls him the “best-educated leader yet.” He is the first senior official to have a PhD in economics and a master’s degree in law.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
A lawyer, Medvedev is one of the first top Russian leaders with no links to the former Soviet Communist Party or secret services, according to a 2011 profile by the BBC. He does, however, have close ties to Putin, a former KGB spy.
Medvedev rose from the ranks from being consultant to the St Petersburg mayor in the 90s, to heading Putin’s 2000 election campaign. He also once served as Putin’s chief of staff before being elected to the presidency in 2008. In 2011, he announced he would step down as president and be prime minister under Putin instead.
The 52-year-old was born in Leningrad and was raised in Kupchino, located at the outskirts of St Petersburg. According to the same BBC profile, he is a fan of rock groups Pink Floyd and Deep Purple.
Medvedev also represented Russia the last time the Philippines hosted a major world forum, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC in 2015. – Rappler.com