18 August 2019
APEC leaders will keep their focus on economic issues. Photo: Reuters
APEC leaders will keep their focus on economic issues. Photo: Reuters

Occupy not on APEC radar; students put off Beijing trip

APEC leaders meeting in Beijing are unlikely to pay any attention to the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the Wall Street Journal reported.

US President Barack Obama and other participants at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, including Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, are expected to keep their eyes fixed on an agenda filled with trade and economic issues.

“Traditionally, [APEC meetings] have been heavily focused on economics, with almost no comments on anything else,” Michael DeGolyer, a professor of government at Hong Kong Baptist University told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Federation of Students said on Thursday evening it had postponed a planned visit to Beijing during the APEC meetings.

“We didn’t cancel [the visit], but it will probably be next week or the week after next, because we need more time to openly request the meeting with Beijing officials,” said HKFS spokeswoman Yvonne Leung.

“APEC isn’t a key factor that we are concerned about.”

The students are looking for middlemen to help arrange meetings with central government officials such as Premier Li Keqiang and National People’s Congress Standing Committee chairman Zhang Dejiang, she said.

The students haven’t decided whom they want to meet but intend to publish open letters to those officials.

For now, the country’s leaders are preoccupied with the APEC summit, which is being held in China for the first time in 13 years. It is the first major international conference in Beijing since President Xi Jinping took the helm of the Communist Party in November 2012.

Some protesters speculate the Hong Kong and central governments will force them off the roads they have been occupying for six weeks once APEC concludes and the eyes of the world shift away from China.

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