San Francisco sent out city workers to clean the city last week in preparation for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit.

The city, which has struggled with homelessness, drugs and crime in recent years, as previously reported by the Deseret News, underwent a transformation as city workers installed planters and flower baskets, put up walls and barricades, and swept the tent encampments in the downtown area.

Crews scrubbed down graffiti, painted on new murals and hung up signage for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, which Biden and Xi will be attending this week, according to media reports.

“We’re cleaning up this state!” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday at a press conference, according to ABC News’ San Francisco affiliate.

“I know folks are saying, ‘Oh they’re just cleaning up this place because all those fancy leaders are coming to town.’ That’s true, because it’s true — but it’s also true for months and months and months before APEC, we’ve been having conversations,” he said, unveiling a $1.2 billion Clean California program.

Sen. Mike Lee questions the timing of the cleanup

Critics like Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee questioned the timing of the cleanup: “Given that Xi Jinping’s visit to San Francisco led to that city being cleaned up for the first time in years, what should we have Xi visit next?” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. He asked if Xi could go to the Southern border for a visit.

Gavin Newsom’s not-so-hidden presidential ambitions

On the timing of the cleanup, Newsom said, “You have people over to your house you’re going to clean up the house, you’re going to make sure the kids make their beds.”

The city has done this before. According to reports, back in September, during the Dreamforce convention, hosted by the software company Salesforce, the homeless were shooed off to other parts of the city and tent encampments were taken down, but things quickly reverted to the status quo.

“San Francisco can be the cleanest, safest, most beautiful, and incredible city in the world instantly,” said Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, on X. “It happened for Dreamforce and it’s happening again for APEC. What we intend we create.”

The beautification effort and the summit were met with praise as well as criticism, as demonstrators took to the streets to protest corporate greed, environmental harm and poor working conditions. They also held pro-Palestinian signs. Thousands of protesters are expected to continue picketing all week during the APEC event, according to an NBC News affiliate.

What is the APEC summit? Why is San Francisco hosting it?

The summit will be held Nov. 14-16. Its invitees include Asian Pacific leaders, CEOs from around the world, and tens of thousands of business owners and workers. City officials say the event could bring in $53 million in revenue, per USA Today.

San Francisco, on the Pacific Coast and next door to Silicon Valley, was chosen to host the 30th APEC summit because of its “story of resilience, innovation and inclusivity,” according to the host committee’s website.

Asian Americans represent 33% of the city’s population, and San Francisco’s Chinatown is the first and oldest in North America.

This is Xi’s first trip to the U.S. in more than six years, as NPR reported. While this isn’t a state visit, Biden and Xi will have a brief talk on Nov. 15, marking their second face-to-face interaction since Biden took office.

S.F. mayor plans to bring up fentanyl crisis to President Xi

Xi and Biden are expected to discuss reestablishing military communication, which suffered a setback during the pandemic.

Bloomberg reported the two countries are also expected to launch a joint working group to address the issue of fentanyl, which has allegedly been created in Chinese labs, illegally pouring into the U.S. — an issue that San Francisco Mayor London Breed is also focused on.

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The deadly drug has been a pain point for San Francisco, too, where it is responsible for the deaths of more than 600 people this year.

Breed told Bloomberg she would ask Xi “to work with the U.S. and to ensure that the resources that are being sent out of China, that come into either the U.S. or Mexico, are cut off to the fullest extent possible.”

President Xi tells Newsom about his first visit to S.F.

Meanwhile, Newsom recently met with Xi during his surprise visit to China two weeks ago, where the Chinese president recalled his time in San Francisco decades ago.

“First thing he remembered was the Golden Gate Bridge when he was here in 1985,” Newsom said of Xi’s trip as the then-secretary of a county committee of his party. “You should have seen the smile on his face.”

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