The Guardian 23 November, 2005
Fierce protest against Bush in South Korea
SEOUL: Fierce protests accompanied the arrival on November 16 in South Korea of US President George W Bush for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum last week.
Thousands of people protested against the visit of Bush and also demonstrated against a government plan being debated by Parliament to liberalise Korea’s rice market.
Chanting slogans and carrying anti-US banners, the protestors withstood police aggressions.
The night before, posters portrayed the US President stabbing a knife into a bag of rice in reference to Seoul’s commitment to increase imports of rice in response to the demands of the World Trade Organisation.
During the protests there were confrontations between anti-riot police and South Korean farmers, resulting in dozens of injuries.
South Korea plans to reduce protectionist restrictions in the rice market (quota limits and high tariffs on imports) by 2014.
The APEC annual meeting in the South Korean city of Busan, in which the heads of state of 21 countries and territories participated, is dedicated to the liberalisation of the world market.
The APEC is made up of Peru, Chile, Mexico, Australia, Brunei, Canada, South Korea, China, the United States, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Before the summit, the US President met with the South Korean President, Roh Moo-hyun in the city of Gyongju.
This is Bush’s second stopover on an eight-day Asian tour that will also take him to China and Mongolia. Bush arrived in South Korea from Japan where he met with his firmest Asian ally, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. There he stressed the importance of the Tokyo-Washington alliance.