World Economy

Hamburg Burns as G20 Talks Begin

Upwards of 10,000 protesters were from anti-Trump and anti-capitalist groups. Protests turned violent as Trump arrived in Hamburg
Riot police block the “Welcome to Hell” rally against the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany on July 7.Riot police block the “Welcome to Hell” rally against the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany on July 7.

Protesters have turned violent in Hamburg, Germany, as the G-20 summit, featuring many of the world’s most powerful heads of state, gets underway. A huge demonstration has been forcefully suspended by Hamburg’s police after small riots started. The situation escalated quickly afterwards, with masked rioters wreaking havoc—torching cars and forcing the evacuation of a kindergarten.

Leaders of world's 20 largest economies are meeting in Germany for discussion on everything from climate to trade policies, news outlets reported.

The meeting, which began on Friday in the port city in the country's north, comes at a time of major shifts in the global geopolitical landscape, with US President Donald Trump's "America First" policies pushing Europe and China closer together.

Amid seemingly intractable conflicts, the host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, faces the daunting task of steering leaders towards a consensus on trade, security, climate and migration—all issues that have become more contentious since Trump entered the White House in January.

Merkel said she hopes to find "compromises and answers" on a range of issues at the two-day meeting of leading industrial and developing nations. While there's little disagreement on fighting terrorism, the first item on the agenda, prospects of finding common ground on climate change and trade look uncertain.

The G-20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, France, Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Also attending the summit are the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Guinea, Senegal, Singapore and Vietnam.

“Shaping an Interconnected World”

The theme of this year’s G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, is “Shaping an Interconnected World”. The gathering is set to focus on building resilient economies, improving sustainability and assuming responsibility for the prosperity of all countries. But discussions take place in a much more uncertain and potentially divisive environment than previous years.

In particular, they are divided over their attitudes toward globalization. It is globalization that has significantly increased the degree of interconnection between the world’s economies. And it is this interconnection that drives the need for international discussion and cooperation–via events such as the G20.

But this last year has seen as a loud backlash against globalization. There was the Brexit vote in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the US on a protectionist ticket. This is ironic given that they are two of the world’s biggest economies (at least for the time being). Both have been major drivers of globalization and have benefited enormously from it.

But now both countries are calling the future of globalization into question. Two sides have emerged in the debate over whether or not globalization is a good thing and whether or not nation states should be more protective and inward-looking.

"Welcome to Hell"

Following a night of clashes Thursday with the police, thousands of people took to the streets of the German city to express anger over the two days of talks.

A number of police officers and emergency personnel were injured as the rally turned violent, authorities said. Fires were lit and rocks hurled in an effort to disrupt the summit. At least 30 protesters were arrested.

Some called the demonstration ‘Welcome to hell’ with some participants attacking authorities, setting fires, hurling rocks at officers and buildings, chanting slogans and touting angry banners. Upwards of 10,000 protesters were from anti-Trump and anti-capitalist groups. The latter say they are angry at the potential cost to the city of the clean-up following the summit. Protests turned violent as Trump arrived in Hamburg.

German police sought Friday to prevent small groups of mostly anti-capitalist protesters from disrupting the G20 summit. Officers dressed in riot gear intervened as protest groups tried to enter the red zone—the blocked-off area close to the summit venue—while other small groups staged sit-ins across the city.

Police said 159 officers have been injured since Thursday and reinforcements from outside Hamburg have been requested.

Members of the “Color the Red Zone” protest said they were trying to make it difficult for G20 participants to travel to the talks. “We are living in a democracy and the red zone is not a democracy,” said Karl S., a student protester from Dusseldorf who declined to give CNN his full name.

Hamburg police said one of their helicopters was targeted with a flare which only narrowly missed it. Two police vehicles carrying officers were also attacked, with paint thrown and windows smashed. Bottles and fireworks were flung, injuring some officers, police said. In addition, the tires of a Canadian delegation car were slashed, according to police.

Burning vehicles—not just luxury automobiles but also family cars, were seen burning at many places. The distinction doesn't matter—all that matters is that it's burning.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints