The biggest security operation since Hong Kong was handed over to China from British rule is underway as the city prepares for the World Trade Organisation summit.
Nine thousand police officers have been drafted in to control the barricades around the Convention Centre. Access roads are blocked, pedestrian walkways covered in nets and even the bricks in the street have been glued down to stop them being torn up and thrown. Thousands of anti-globalisation demonstrators are expected – including a group of South Korean farmers promising to make a dramatic protest. Meanwhile the prospects for progress inside the hall are looking bleak. The European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson is not expecting any breakthrough at the six-day meeting. “I’ve come to Hong Kong to do business with my partners and I hope partners have come here to do business with me. This doesn’t mean that I will be tabline a new agricutlural offer. I don’t believe this is what the round needs now from Europe,” he said. The EU is offering an average 46 per cent cut in farm tariffs. WTO head Pascal Lamy expects the more numerous developing countries to prevail: “There’s a negotiation going on. There are so many countries around the WTO table that the law of the numbers will prevail on agriculture.” The WTO only finalises a deal when all members are happy. They have six days to reach agreement.