San Francisco Chinatown welcomes APEC with special events

San Francisco Chinatown rolled out the welcome mat ahead of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit with a series of special events, including a night market Friday evening. 

Community leaders and merchants said this is an opportunity to show the world San Francisco has much to offer despite the negative publicity and that the summit could go a long way in helping to repair the city's image.

The summit is a chance for the historic Chinatown neighborhood to reclaim its glory from the pre-pandemic years.  

"I'm so glad APEC is here this weekend. This brings back old Chinatown," said Camille Belamide, a San Francisco native who now lives in Vallejo.  

Community leaders said this is the perfect opportunity to showcase Chinese culture and culinary delights  to the world.

"I want them to come and see it , enjoy it," said night market organizer Lily Lo with BeChinatown.   

"Every day, we're going to put it out," said Tony Lau, vice president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, as he pointed to the dragon that will be on display along Grant Avenue starting Saturday until Sunday, November 19th. 

It is the same dragon that is the grand finale of the annual Chinese New Year Parade, a fitting attraction for the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. 

Rumors of a visit by either President Joe Biden or the Chinese President Xi Jinping would be more than welcomed. 

"Chinatown is all prepared for this. They're prepared for [Xi] to come over to our Chinatown, [to see] how good we are," said Lau.  

Banners are up, welcoming world leaders.  

"People in the community and the city are looking at APEC as a potential reset for San Francisco, a relaunch of our image, certainly our reputation," said Malcolm Yeung, executive director of Chinatown Community Development Center.

He said the recent return of three China-based airlines to San Francisco International Airport after a three-year pandemic break had a great economic impact.

"We know Chinese passengers have the highest per passenger spend of any passenger," said Yeung. "I've already started to see more Asian faces visiting Chinatown along Grant Street presumably from overseas."

For the owner of P&C Gift Shop along Gran, open since September, she hopes the spotlight on the APEC summit will shine a favorable light on the city. 

"I hope this meeting will bring us more business and more people to know San Francisco Chinatown," said shop owner Cherry Cai.

Chinatown is hosting a series of special events during the duration of the APEC summit. The final event is a disco block part sceduled for Friday, November 17th to be held along Grant Avenue.

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU.  Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU