10 December 2005

Ah, Hong Kong. A minute island that is bewildering enough already. To the added bewilderment of almost everyone involved, the WTO is coming to town. Over 9,000 police officers - almost one per protester - are braced for massive demonstrations. This is Seattle and Cancun all over again - only now, we're told, with more at stake. And on a minute island. Trade mandarins tell us that only drastic trade liberalisation will give the world economy the $600bn kick it needs. Protesters (among them scores of dissenting economists and the ever-rowdy Korean farmers) say their strategy is to "derail" negotiations they see as promulgating massive job losses and hunger in the south for the benefit of bloated corporations in the north.

Your humble correspondent will endeavour to keep you abreast of events as they unfold, or, more likely, unravel. I also hope to unpick some of the WTO's more opaque jargon and will file reports on Monday - after Sunday’s opening rally - and on the following Monday, when, bloodshot and baffled, delegates and demonstrators will emerge from suites and cells and contemplate the fruits of their labour. Now, where's my gum shield...

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