Watch out, Heiligendamm – Sydney has a fence now, too! (by Kolya, Flickr)
As George W. Bush arrives in Sydney for the APEC summit, he and his entourage might feel like being back in Heiligendamm. A five kilometer fence has been built across the city’s central business district to keep off demonstrators. 5,000 police and troops will be patrolling the streets as 21 leaders of the Asian-pacific region meet, including political heavyweights like Hu Jintao, Vladimir Putin, George W. Bush and the host, Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
The two main issues being discussed will be trade and climate change. As Australia mainly trades with APEC states, they are said to push for less bureaucracy – but talks about this have unsuccessfully been held for quite some years now, with the result of the Doha round being almost dead. The talks about climate change might also not bring more than some vague promises, as Australia and the U.S. have not even signed the Kyoto protocol.
Critics have been arguing the APEC rounds have become to big and pledge for a return to the ASEAN plus 3 (China, Japan and South Korea) talks. The real issues might be discussed in bilateral talks, anyway: The current spy-affair between China and the US might be a topic, as well as the tightening relationship between Russia and China, which is watched closely by the USA, Japan and Australia.
And what about the fence? There seems to be a crisis on both sides. Critics argue the anti-globilisation movement in the West is running out of ideas and things to fight for (except fighting climate change). At the same time, the summit circus‘ legitimacy is being discussed more and more controversial, even within the political elite, as it has become too expensive and does not deliver enough results. It may not take too long and fences might become unnecessary, as heads of states find meeting bilaterally or in smaller groups proving to be more effective after all.