On Eve Of G-20 Summit, Criticism Of U.S. Mounts
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
NPR's Louisa Lim reports from Seoul.
LOUISA LIM: As President Obama touched down in Seoul, South Korean news channels covered his arrival live. This is a defining moment for the country, which has spent millions preparing for the G-20.
CHE SU CHAN: It's, in a sense, a coming out for Korea.
LIM: Che Su Chan is a professor as KAIST, Korea's answer to MIT. He says for South Korea, being the host and chair of the G-20 meeting has deeper significance.
SU CHAN: The fact that Korea, which has regarded itself as a sort of weak nation, has become a sort of middle ground nation. And now it can claim itself to be part of this expanded leadership.
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD)
LIM: South Korea is taking no chances. Some 50,000 police are patrolling the streets. But big demonstrations are planned for tomorrow.
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LIM: It's been held up by disputes over South Korea's treatment of American autos and beef. Now the South Korean press is hinting a compromise may have been reached. Protester Hwong Hyan Jun(ph) says he believes any FTA will benefit big business, not ordinary people.
HWONG HYAN JUN: So we cannot believe the Korean government. I think they will give too much to the U.S. government. It's not fair to Korean people.
LIM: So if a deal is reached, it could ignite more fury on the streets. But if it isn't, U.S. businesses could suffer, according to Tami Overby, vice president for Asia of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
TAMI OVERBY: The free trade agreement, really, it is about economics, but it's also about the American footprint in Asia. The rest of the world has not been standing still. So America has got to get in the game.
LIM: Next on the agenda, another tricky bilateral - this time with China's president, Hu Jintao. The relationship has spiraled with disputes over trade, territorial issues, Tibet and Taiwan, among other things. International relations professor Jin Tang Rong from People's University in Beijing, says China's been taken aback by the storms overshadowing the two powers.
JIN TANG RONG: Unidentified Woman: (Singing) Let's go, let's go, let's go.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
LIM: Louisa Lim, NPR News, Seoul.
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