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World Economic Forum Expects Lower Attendance After Terror Attacks - 2001-10-26


The World Economic Forum expects a slight drop in attendance at its conference next week in Hong Kong, because of the terrorist attacks on the United States last month. The forum also is expected to draw fewer protesters.

Frank Richter, Asia director for the World Economic Forum, says, in his words, "a handful of people" have dropped out of the conference. He says the meeting, which starts Monday in Hong Kong, will draw about 800 people.

Mr. Richter says the economic and business problems linked to last month's terror attacks have forced some participants to drop out.

The organizers expect to see only a handful of anti-globalization protesters during the conference. Leaders of two groups that have protested at similar events in Hong Kong say they will not hold demonstrations this time.

A group called the Asia Monitor Resource Center will take part in one demonstration Sunday, before the conference starts, and about 500 protesters are expected to attend.

The Hong Kong police say they will have about 500 officers providing security for the conference. That compares with about 3,000 police at a conference here last May that China's President Jiang Zemin attended.

Anti-globalization groups have impeded dozens of economic and trade conferences around the world in the past few years. The protesters say economic globalization and open trade exploit poor countries and damage the environment, among other things.

Sanjiv Pandita, with the anti-globalization group Asia Monitor Resource in Hong Kong, says it has become too difficult to travel since the attacks on New York and Washington. That means the crowds of demonstrators seen at past events in the United States and Europe can not get to Hong Kong.

In addition, Mr. Richter at the World Economic Forum says, many groups now may be more concerned about helping poor countries recover from the economic slump than they are with protesting.

"The whole movement is no longer deploying energy as before, so we don't expect demonstrators, protesters in the streets," he says.

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