World Trade Organization Meeting in Hong Kong

The latest news from Hong Kong, of course, has been all the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks and following protests. Ever since the mishap in Seattle many years ago, protests of the WTO have been closely scrutinized for treatment of the protesters by the police. So far, there hasn’t been anything too dramatic here in Hong Kong although there has been lots of hoopla surrounding the South Korean protests.

When I first arrived at the airport, the taxi driver was relieved that I was not headed downtown to Central, where the majority of protests are happening. Over the past few days, I’ve seen plenty of protesters on the subway (MTR) here but for every protest group, police came by the dozens to ensure things remained peaceful. TV cameras were stationed outside the U.S. consulate today, witnessed as I passed by.

The protesters seem to be giving out a great deal of reading material to the Hong Kong public. I saw several pamphlets of material being read on the MTR today, all explaining the plight of the South Korean farmer. The argument seems to be that many South Korean farmers will lose their livelihoods should the WTO find a way to cut domestic agricultural subsidies and limit import tariffs. South Korea would be flooded with American/developed nation agriculture (mostly rice, apparently) ruining any chance that the local farmers could compete on the global economy. On the other hand, any WTO deal would mean making a trade off giving the developing nations access to sell other different products to developed nations. Brtain/the European Union and the U.S. have different plans to address the issue but the real key is getting the developing nations on board.

EDIT: From what I have seen on television news, you’d think the South Korean protesters are having a little too much fun at their protests because they are always depicted as dancing and singing in the streets.