In a speech to business leaders in Lima on Friday, Hu said the global financial situation remained extremely grim and that China was making efforts to stimulate its economy and would strengthen ties with other developing countries to confront the crisis.

"China will take a responsible attitude and work alongside the international community to strengthen co-operation to strive to protect the stability of international financial markets," Hu said.

'No breakthroughs'

What is Apec?

The economic bloc represents more than 50 per cent of the world's gross domestic product.
 
Apec is home to about 2.7 billion people, or 40 per cent of the world's population.

The leaders of Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Canada, Mexico and Russia and other countries will join Bush and Hu at the summit over the weekend.

However, the group has often been criticised as irrelevant because it has never agreed a regional free-trade agreement.

Bush is also keen for better economic integration with Apec nations, as the US, which has seen its trade with Apec rise from $1.2 trillion in 2001 to almost $2 trillion in 2007.

Daniel Price, Bush's adviser on global economic affairs, said the US was concerned that new free trade initiatives have "focused on Asia-first or Asia-only agreements".

However, with Bush's low popularity ratings and world leaders already seeking favour with Barack Obama, the US president-elect, many officials have warned that he is unlikely to secure any major policy breakthroughs.

Despite Obama's soaring popularity around much of the world, some Asian nations worry he will change US trade policy when faced with the financial crisis.

Japan's trade minister, Toshihiro Nikai, said he hoped that the Obama administration would carry on the trade policies of the Bush years.

"To achieve that goal, it is important for us to co-ordinate well," Nikai said.

However, about 1,000 protesters took to the streets of Lima for Bush's international swan song, accusing him of triggering the global financial crisis through the Iraq war and his advocacy of free trade.

"This crisis didn't come from the Peruvian people. We shouldn't have to pay for it," a union leader told the protesters.

North Korea talks

Bush was set to meet Japanese and South Korean leaders a day later for discussions on how to advance the North Korea talks.

North Korea has agreed to disable its Yongbyon nuclear plant and to submit to
inspections to verify its claims about its arms programme.

However, it recently slowed the dismantling work, saying it was not properly receiving the promised compensation.

Bush is also planning to meet Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, on the sidelines of the Apec meeting.

The two are expected to discuss the conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia and Moscow's opposition to US plans to base a missile defence system in Eastern Europe.