World leaders gathered for the traditional ‘silly shirts’ photo at the APEC summit, but Tony Abbott and Vladimir Putin managed to avoid a confrontation.
30 representatives from the 21 APEC nations lined up for cameras, dressed in their traditionally inspired Chinese silk garments, to mark the 2014 meeting.
The so-called ‘silly shirt’ tradition began at the 1993 APEC conference when then US president, Bill Clinton, gave attending leaders and ministers each a bomber jacket.
Many, but not all, APEC summits since have featured a family photo of the key participants dressed in often colourful garments, reflective of the culture of the host country.
The 2014 edition shirts are modelled on the traditional Chinese Zhongsan suit, favoured by former Chinese leader, Mao Zedong. They were considered out of fashion in recent times until current Chinese President Xi Jinping brought the style back to prominence earlier this year by wearing one at a meeting with the Dutch royal family. Some detractors, though, have described the sleek, silk APEC shirts as being reminiscent of uniforms worn in Star Trek.
Prior to the Beijing summit Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, made global headlines when he said he would like to “shirt-front” (an Aussie slang sporting term for a violent clash of chests) Russian president, Vladimir Putin, over the shooting down of flight MH17 which took the lives of 38 Australian residents and citizens.
It was suggested that Mr Abbott and Mr Putin would discuss the matter, man to man, at the APEC summit or at the G20 summit in Brisbane, which follows soon after. However, Mr Abbott sought to diffuse the situation on Monday, toning down his rhetoric on the issue.
“There’s a big agenda here and conversations with the Russian president on a very important subject are only part and by no means the biggest part of the agenda that Australia is following here in Beijing and subsequently in Brisbane,” he said.
During the silly shirts family photo, Mr Abbott and Mr Putin appeared to be avoiding direct eye contact, despite standing barely a metre apart.
TOP IMAGE: Tony Abbott and Vladimir Putin amongst the leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC, posing for the traditional ‘silly shirts’ photo. (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)