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Summit and the City

By Winston Chu Dec. 14, 2023

Jude Tantawy Art

From Nov. 16 to Nov. 17, the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit took place in San Francisco, with leaders from various countries bordering the Pacific Ocean gathering to discuss how to spur more economic growth and trade. Yet, while the main purpose of the summit is establishing a consensus on global plans and efforts, this year’s meeting also underscored the many challenges San Francisco has struggled to overcome in the past few years.

The APEC was founded in 1989 and has since been hosting yearly summits of world leaders and diplomats to facilitate growth, trade and investment. This year’s theme was “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All”; all countries committed to fostering innovation while maintaining environmental sustainability. San Francisco was chosen for the meeting this year because of its rich history of innovation and emphasis on sustainability within the thousands of tech companies in the area. Diplomats devised goals to rebuild the economy and supply chains, especially after the global pandemic.

On the sidelines, another meeting was taking place—one between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. Their goal was to improve communications and relations between their two countries. They also worked together to curb illegal fentanyl production and resume military-to-military communications.

Jude Tantawy Art

However, with several world leaders—including Biden, Kamala Harris and other national figures—present in San Francisco, protestors seized their opportunity to emphasize their concerns. On the Bay Bridge, protestors called for a ceasefire in Gaza, shutting down multiple lanes; traffic and bus lines had to be detoured. Anti-CCP protesters also paraded outside the APEC meeting venue, as well as Xi’s hotel.

In preparation for the tens of thousands of diplomats and attendees, San Francisco underwent drastic measures to make the city more presentable. In the midst of a homelessness crisis, city officials cleared tent encampments off of roads. Homeless people were ushered under freeways and into unnoticeable alleys. Moreover, workers polished sidewalks and scrubbed graffiti off buildings. Uneven sidewalks were re-laid, and empty manhole covers were finally fixed.

“San Francisco was not very considerate towards the homeless people because they already struggle in life, and all the city did was just make it harder for them to survive and live. Instead, the city should have helped the homeless by giving them a place to stay,” Sophomore Riya Balaji said.

Furthermore, while the influx of people was expected to generate millions of dollars in local business revenue, many stores and food businesses were negatively impacted. Road closure and parking issues made it difficult to attract customers, causing many shops to temporarily close rather than face dismal sales. These events have also raised concern over San Francisco’s willingness to fix internal problems.

“The city should not be trying to fake their image for the outside world and hide the reality of drugs and crime by cleaning up. The situation is just going to return to the status quo when the event is over,” Freshman Ishani Manral said.

As San Francisco gained international attention as the host of the APEC, its status as a hub of innovation was solidified; however, many also criticized the city for having the ability to fix many issues, but seemingly only doing so when its international picture was at stake.


About the Contributors

Winston Chu

staff writer

Winston Chu is a sophomore at Leland High. He enjoys writing, debating, and sleeping.

Jude Tantawy


Jude Tantawy is a senior at Leland High School and is an artist for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys drawing & painting, cooking, baking, playing video games, and is always listening to music.

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