Monday, 12 December 2005

WTO: Day One - Hong Kong: The Free-est Economy in the World

The Sixth Ministerial of the WTO officially begins tomorrow in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. However, unofficially things have already begun. On Saturday there were several protests and actions around Hong Kong, including the Oxfam Big Noise action that was colourful enough to be splashed all over the local papers (under the heading: "The War has Started"). The next day was the big people's rally, which was amazing. Activists from all over the world marched the streets of Hong Kong and then danced the night away in Victoria Park. The papers the next day begrudgingly admitted that it was more of a carnival than a riot, but maintained their warnings that essentially we are all trouble makers.

On Saturday a group of us went to pick up our accreditation passes so that we can get into the official venue, and we were presented with a WTO welcome pack in a brief case. Inside were information booklets on such relevant NGO topics as: "A Business Traveller's Guide to Hong Kong" and shopping guides. The best part, though, was the cover of the info folder: "Hong Kong - The Free-est Economy in the World". The WTO must be patting themselves on the back for their choice of venue. You could not have found a more supportive local climate.

I have been running around attending NGO events and strategy meetings, while trying to meet people to interview for my PhD. Its been hectic already, but I think that the real craziness is going to begin tomorrow. At some point, I'll try to post some actual information and photos. For now, I think I am going to get some sleep.

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