World leaders, CEOs, protesters and hundreds of others will quickly descend on San Francisco for a worldwide commerce summit that might give the battered metropolis an opportunity to reverse its picture of an financial powerhouse now in decline.

The annual Asia-Pacific Financial Cooperation leaders’ summit can be San Francisco’s largest worldwide gathering since dignitaries gathered in 1945 to signal the constitution creating the United Nations.

The summit opens Saturday and runs by way of Friday, drawing an anticipated 20,000 folks. Of explicit notice this 12 months is a deliberate tete-a-tete between President Joe Biden and Chinese language counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit — their first direct engagement in a tension-filled 12 months between the world’s two greatest financial powers.


As host, San Francisco and the town’s companions are sharpening sidewalks, scrubbing away graffiti and shifting homeless folks to lodging indoors. Individually, Mayor London Breed has been selling pop-up retailers, new locations and eating places in a downtown struggling to regain foot site visitors post-pandemic.

Breed has repeatedly stated she needs summit guests to return residence with recollections of a San Francisco that’s protected, vibrant and open for enterprise — not the picture of grime, crime and homelessness so typically mirrored in media protection.

“To not counsel that we don’t have challenges like some other main metropolis, however we predict that as a result of we’re anticipating hundreds of press from world wide, that may give them an opportunity to expertise San Francisco,” she advised The Related Press.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined Breed on Thursday in touting the state’s work to construct a tree nursery close to a homeless shelter and alongside Interstate 80. Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor, stated the undertaking exhibits the town’s resilience.

Azalina Eusope appears out the entrance door on the surrounding Tenderloin district from her restaurant in San Francisco on Nov. 8, 2023. (AP Photograph/Eric Risberg)

“I’m so enthusiastic about exhibiting this off to 21 fancy overseas leaders from world wide -– tens of hundreds of individuals which might be going to return in and surprise what the hell Fox Information has been speaking about all these years,” he stated.

Because the summit looms, Chinese language state media has centered on talks like Thursday’s assembly right here between U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Chinese language Vice Premier He Lifeng.

However searches for San Francisco on Douyin — Tiktok’s authentic Chinese language model — confirmed dozens of movies of homeless folks sleeping within the metropolis’s streets.

Apart from world leaders, APEC finance ministers and overseas press, the summit can be anticipated to attract an array of individuals protesting human rights abuses, authoritarian regimes, the Israel-Hamas struggle and the fossil gas trade.

Some critics complain occasions like APEC prioritize company earnings over on a regular basis folks. APEC is a regional financial discussion board established in 1989 and has 21 member international locations.

“I believe it’s very cynical to be utilizing it like an Instagram second, principally to promote actual property within the metropolis,” stated Karl Kramer, marketing campaign co-director for the San Francisco Dwelling Wage Coalition.

The pandemic decimated the town’s predominant financial drivers of tourism and tech. Main retailers closed downtown shops final summer season, leaving extra empty storefronts in a district that when bustled with vacationers and workplace staff. Companies complained of vandalism, shoplifting, break-ins and unresponsive police.

San Francisco boosters, nevertheless, say the “doom-loop” narrative will not be solely unfair however false.


San Francisco tech public relations agency LaunchSquad was employed with personal summit funds to pitch journalists on tales setting the file straight. And a civic enterprise group co-headed by the president of the San Francisco Giants launched a $4 million advertising and marketing marketing campaign touting the town as a spot for inventive dreamers.

Kenya-based public relations CEO Gilbert Manirakiza was amongst interviews obtained by way of LaunchSquad to share his expertise within the metropolis throughout a convention final month. He stated an individual processing his visa warned him to watch out. However he liked his go to, seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, strolling to Chinatown for late-night meals, and taking a robo-taxi again to his resort.

“The final theme there,” he stated, “was a way of ‘I can dream something and make it occur by some means.’”

San Francisco promoters level to furnishings big IKEA, which opened on a troubled downtown block in August, and to the town’s rising AI trade. Additionally they herald the arrival of Chotto Matte, a high-end world restaurant chain, now serving Japanese Peruvian meals from a surprising rooftop perch above a former Macy’s retailer.

Chotto Matte Founder Kurt Zdesar stated 3,000 reservation requests poured in inside the first half hour of opening final month. “It exhibits that San Francisco isn’t lifeless,” he stated, including he believes “there’s an urge for food for issues to alter” regardless of unfavourable media narratives.

However Azalina Eusope says no quantity of optimistic press will fill her 32-seat Malaysian restaurant blocks away within the Tenderloin District, an space crammed with kids and immigrants like herself in addition to medicine and homelessness. She stated diners typically cancel reservations as soon as they discover out the placement.

Eusope, an entrepreneur additionally advised by public relations agency LaunchSquad, opened Azalina’s final 12 months with hopes of serving to change the neighborhood. Apart from serving high-end, four-course dinners, she gives deeply backed meals to neighborhood kids and weekend cooking courses.

However already she sees extra unfamiliar homeless residents camped out close to her restaurant when she arrives every day, doubtless pushed out of their common downtown spots forward of the summit.

“So already I’m somewhat nervous. Folks simply come contained in the restaurant, we are able to’t lock the door, they throw a tantrum. One man had a knife. We known as 911 they usually didn’t present,” Eusope stated of police.

In the meantime, Jennifer Friedenbach, government director of the Coalition on Homelessness, stated she fears a repeat of what occurred when San Francisco hosted the 2016 Tremendous Bowl. Then, folks have been booted out of shelter traces to make manner for individuals who usually reside downtown and needed to be moved.

“It’s tough on the market,” she stated. “Of us need to get off the streets, however there’s not capability for everyone.”

Town will not be opening particular homeless shelters particularly for the summit. Nonetheless, a bunch shelter opens Friday and roughly 300 new beds can be out there this month and subsequent, stated Emily Cohen with the town’s Division of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.


In the meantime, metropolis boosters see grounds for optimism.

This month, Air China resumed direct flights between San Francisco and Beijing after suspending flights simply earlier than the pandemic.

Tourism from Asia, and China particularly, fuels San Francisco’s Chinatown, says Malcolm Yeung, government director of the Chinatown Group Improvement Heart. He hopes the town will facilitate visits to the neighborhood and use the summit to declare that Chinatown is again, together with all the town’s different vibrant Asian American service provider communities.

“APEC actually is a second to say, ‘Hey, we’re open for enterprise, we’re open for enterprise, Asia,’” he stated.

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