Activists' Deed? PRC Drops HK for Beijing to Host APEC

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 2/27/2014 03:07:00 PM
The view Beijing doesn't want you to see?
Cough, cough...the global reputation of the Chinese capital as a pollution haven is legendary. Unfortunately for APEC delegates, I guess they will have no choice but to suffer Beijing's (literally) killer air quality. Observers have now likened it to a "nuclear winter."

Sometime ago I discussed China's advantage in terms of agenda-setting over the US of being the APEC host in 2014. However, it seems they have just received bad PR as Hong Kong was originally meant to be the site of the APEC finance ministers' meeting. But, with Hong Kong pro-democracy activists promising disruptions to coincide with the APEC gatherings, PRC officialdom has reportedly decided to move the proceedings to the comfort of [cough, cough] Beijing. From Agence-France Presse:
Planned summer demonstrations by democracy activists were behind China's decision to snub Hong Kong in favour of Beijing as host of a key Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) finance ministers' meeting, a media report said.

Democracy activists from the "Occupy Central" group have threatened to flood the streets of Hong Kong's business district with thousands of protesters to try to force officials to guarantee electoral reform. An official said Beijing's decision to relocate the meetings planned for September was related to the ongoing civil disobedience campaign, according to Cable News TV.
However, Hong Kong's current finance minister says this is not the case:
Concerns that large-scale protests could occur if a meeting of Apec finance ministers and central bankers were held in Hong Kong were not behind a decision to relocate the event to Beijing, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said today...

But speaking on a radio phone-in programme Tsang said neither city was concerned about the potential for being embarrassed by such protests. “I think Beijing understands that Hongkongers enjoy freedom of expression, and if the meeting were held in Hong Kong, reference must be drawn from the way we have done things in the past.”
It's almost a pick your poison situation: Hong Kong promised political turmoil, while Beijing promises environmental turmoil depending on the state of its air in a few months' time. I wouldn't have picked either town.