Amid the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) global trade summit in San Francisco, thousands of protesters and activists gathered in the city to oppose APEC’s free trade agenda.
No to APEC: On Sunday, the No to APEC Coalition, a diverse group of over 100 grassroots organizations, marched through downtown and rallied against APEC, citing environmental harm by summit sponsors like Amazon and Microsoft. The coalition denounced APEC’s promotion of economic prosperity and environmental protection as a facade for exploiting the environment and marginalized communities in the U.S. and across the Asia-Pacific.
Speakers also accused APEC of prioritizing backroom military discussions and facilitating arms companies.
“[APEC is] a tool of big business and the ruling elite to increase their profits at the expense of people and the planet,” Brandon Lee of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines told KQED. “APEC will not be epic. It will be a waste of millions of taxpayer dollars, and it will only result in further worker exploitation and environmental destruction.”
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Protesting against leaders: Activists also protested against human rights abuses by leaders attending the summit — such as China’s Xi Jinping, Philippines’ Bongbong Marcos, South Korea’s Yoon Suk-yeol and Peru’s Dina Boluarte — and on international issues, including the Israel-Gaza war, calling for a cease-fire.
“We gather to declare to the U.S. government and to the whole world that the masses here and the masses all over the world stand on the side of justice, of dignity, of liberation, and on the side of Palestinian people,” Suzanne Ali from the Palestinian Youth Movement told KQED.
Asian American organizers, representing groups like Anakbayan USA and the Chinese Progressive Association, played a significant role in the rally. Protests are reportedly planned throughout the week, focusing on the APEC CEO Summit and CEO meetings.
About APEC: APEC is an inter-governmental forum for the member economies in the Pacific Rim that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region. As many as 30,000 individuals may be present during the APEC event.
Over the span of one week (Nov. 11-19), the summit will gather numerous heads of state, foreign officials and corporate leaders in San Francisco, accompanied by stringent security measures. Although APEC events will be held in different locations, it will be concentrated at Moscone Center.
Securing the summit: San Francisco has implemented barricades and fencing to secure the summit, with city officials having reportedly intensified efforts to clear homeless encampments in the conference vicinity. This move has been met with criticism on social media, with many raising concern about the displacement of the homeless population and accusing the measures as a way to prevent protests.
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The White House announced that Joe Biden and Xi will discuss various bilateral, regional and global issues during their meeting on Wednesday.
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