The internet has found a reason to care about the APEC summit

GlobalPost
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives in Manila to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on November 17, 2015.
Noel Celis

As 21 world leaders got down to business at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila on Wednesday, many Filipinos were focused on one issue: Is Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto hotter than Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?

Seriously.

The clean-cut good looks of Peña Nieto and Trudeau have sparked a firestorm on Twitter as social media users debate who should be crowned chief #APEChottie at the annual two-day summit, which is focused on trade and economic development in the region.

Other leaders at the meeting, including the presidents of the United States and China, barely get a mention. Subtext: Just because you're one of the most powerful people in the room doesn't mean you're sexy.

tine on Twitter

Heneral Eyebags on Twitter

yáng on Twitter

Annie on Twitter

Even local media were gushing over 49-year-old Peña Nieto and 43-year-old Trudeau, with journalists reportedly warned against “shouting or making giddy shrieks” when the newly elected Canadian prime minister arrived in the Philippine capital. 

Wednesday’s front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer was dominated by photos of Peña Nieto and Trudeau, with a caption asking female readers if they were “Team Nieto or "Team Trudeau.”

For many, it's a tough call. 

fio in the am on Twitter

The fervent discussion about political eye candy at APEC has diverted attention from less sexy talking points.

It's taken some focus off the traffic chaos caused by the tough security measures for the summit, which comes five days after the Paris terrorist attacks.

Kim on Twitter

And it's overshadowed allegations by Human Rights Watch that hundreds of homeless people, including children, were detained as part of "clearing operations" to spruce up Manila ahead of the talks. 

Phelim Kine 林海 on Twitter

Even the matching outfits worn by the leaders for the group photo — traditional barong tagalog shirts — escaped some of the derision usually dished out for coordinated clothes worn at previous APEC gatherings. 

 GMA News on Twitter

While #APEChottie dominates chatter outside the talks, inside APEC meeting rooms the focus is on more serious issues.

Apart from trade and economic issues, leaders are expected to discuss the growing threat of the Islamic State in the region, long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and climate change.

China is also expected to use the gathering to push harder for a free trade agreement with Asia-Pacific nations, while Obama is talking up the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which was struck last month but still needs to be approved by lawmakers in signatory countries. 

A final decision on who will be crowned the 2015 #APEChottie will be left, presumably, to social media users.