The WTO came to Hong Kong last week. I can’t decide if it this was politics, entertainment, prophetic, pathetic, important, or futile (for everyone concerned.) Maybe it is just a way to fill the papers when there are no good stories on Bird Flu.
Regardless of the long term effects, or even the short term hysteria, the events have left a mark on Hong Kong, and after spending a day on the streets with nearly 5,000 demonstrators, a mark on me.
The World Trade Organization calls its meetings ‘Ministerial Conferences.’ I think this may be the first sign that they are taking themselves a little too seriously. And the nature of their club is sort of NATO-esque in that they have basically let everyone in and UN-esque in that no one listens to anyone except the guy most likely to get a sound bite.
I am unsure how I feel about globalization.
The protestors who flooded Hong Kong are not.
I know that given the choice I would choose to pay less for something, but then again, I also would give money to support indigenous people and cultures, so the whole subsidies issue is quite a rub. I think it might be cheating, sort of like that ass Senator from Alaska who just tagged ANWAR drilling onto a bill to fund Katrina relief.
The most interesting thing about the demonstrations were seeing all of the different groups that were represented there, in particular the South Koreans, who have made quite a name for themselves in their efforts to bring attention to the WTO’s impact on rice farming on the Korean peninsula.
Of course, getting interviewed for the San Francisco news was also a high point for me… though in hindsight, I might have been a little deluded to say that I thought the whole thing would go down calmly, Friday ended up being called “The Siege of Wan Chai” as things got pretty serious with tear gas, pepper spray and a solid dose of battery.
In the end little came of the meetings (as is the norm) and now everything is back to normal in Hong Kong and people are just irritated that they missed a week of Christmas Shopping opportunities downtown. Gotta get the good deal on those goods made in China! [My favorite quote of the week came from the Chinese Minister of Finance who said in response to the US refusal to acknowledge China as a market economy, “Then is there another system superior to a market economy?”]
Anyhow, or six days, things were really rocking and rolling over here and this is how it looked when things got started…
Does this mean put people before profits, or we are people before we make profits…?
Well, yes… Do you see the superimposed cross? Freaky.
These guys also marched…
The Via Campesino Movement
GATT issues and services were also on the agenda…
Local students were out in much larger numbers than I would have predeicted…
International League of People’s Struggles (I guess this is a catch-all organization…)
I did not know this… and I don’t know what amount they are willing to accept….
I notice a theme in the background of so many of the messages, stars and stripes anyone?
I found the mixture of protestors interesting, fisherpeople (that is what they call themselves, I am not trying to be PC), rice farmers, students, sex workers…
The Koreans get ready.
Take a number.
The volume of humanity was impressive…
Everyone came out to see..
Beats workin’ for a living.
Taking notes (?) for Beijing, no doubt.