This week Hong Kong held a series of conferences hoping to promote more trade with Hong Kong and South Korea. The hope is that this will lead to a stronger economy for the relatively poor country. This is really not that interesting; the interesting part was what was going on outside the conference. South Koreans have been protesting loudly and in great numbers since the conferences began and show no signs of slowing down or stopping. These people are against “globalization.”

Globalization is the idea that widespread or “free” trade should exist in every country in the world. This trade will lead to greater communications from country to country making all areas intertwined. Immigration will increase and become more commonplace and a “global village” will emerge. This summer we saw the Live 8 concerts, which tried to raise awareness about all the good points globalization has to offer and how it could help people in poorer countries, especially those in Africa where most people lack even basic healthcare. Steps are being made towards this goal, this week the U.S. offered to allow cotton from West Africa to be imported without having to pay duty taxes.

Not all people are for globalization. Just like those South Korean protesters, some people are afraid that culture will be lost if globalization succeeds. With all these people interacting with each other all people on earth will blend in with each other. Many people are worried that this will lead to loss of many cultures, practices, and traditions that make each area of the world special. Languages and dialects are already disappearing around the world. There is also a concern that diseases will spread much faster then we can contain them, after all even now SARS, which started in one province in China, was spread to 28 different countries as far away as the U.S. and Canada. This argument is holding a lot of weight right now since we’ve all been scared with a “pandemic” of avian flu this winter. There are also concerns in Western countries about how this will affect already suffering agriculture in their own borders. Currently American farms are the biggest exporters in the world, but with cheaper food coming from other places, will American farmers lose their place in the market?

Every year globalization becomes a bigger deal. It is clear that every developed country will have to soon decide where they stand on this subject, but none of them, including America, have made commitments either way though it seems that President Bush is not exactly on board with the idea, despite prodding by his British buddy Prime Minister Tony Blair. But really whether or not America goes for globalization is up to every American, including you.