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World leaders, CEOs will party across San Francisco during APEC. Here’s where

Surrounded by standing men in suits and 2 American flags and 2 Vietnam flag, US President Joe Biden stands in the center of the picture holding a glass of wine as he prepares to cheers with Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong during a formal dinner setting.
President Joe Biden makes a toast with Vietnam’s President Vo Van Thuong, center right, during a state luncheon at the presidential palace in Hanoi in September. | Source: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

How many parties can world leaders and bigwig CEOs stuff into a single week? As the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit rolls into San Francisco, power players are scrambling for access to exclusive parties and receptions around town, from a presidential soiree at the Exploratorium to a gala at the Palace Hotel. 

President Joe Biden is hosting a party at the Exploratorium on Wednesday, but that hot ticket—and many others—aren’t on any venue’s calendar. 

Kevin Xu, CEO of the medical product firm MEBO, is the co-chair of the APEC host committee and donated $1 million to make the event happen. He told The Standard that many party and event details are still being finalized, but he believes the city is ready for a successful summit.

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Because there are so many events happening across the city, local APEC organizers have assigned concierge personnel to help VIPs keep track of their schedules.

Xu conceded that people may have heard about the 5 p.m. Biden reception at the Exploratorium. But the more interesting part about Wednesday is after it’s over, the real geopolitical jockeying will begin. Each major donor to APEC will host a private dinner in another location with a member economy’s head of state. Other major donors include Graton Resort & Casino, Ripple, Kaiser Permanente and Visa.

Planning for those parties has been taking place for months. Leaders such as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been highly sought-after, but interestingly, it seems neither Biden nor Chinese President Xi Jinping will be attending one of those dinners. For Xu’s part, he’s hosting the Malaysian delegation.

“We have started negotiating who gets to host which country’s head of state back in July,” he said.

The top-tier schmoozing continues on Thursday, when the Legion of Honor will be the site of a high-level leader dinner. According to Xu, the final details for that event won’t be worked out until after Wednesday night’s dinners have taken place.

Below the presidential level, other exclusive events start rolling in earnest over the weekend. On Sunday, Mayor London Breed and East West Bank CEO Dominic Ng will host foreign delegates at a reception in City Hall, followed by a dinner at the Asian Art Museum.

On Monday, the APEC Business Advisory Council opening night dinner will be at the Westin St. Francis hotel. That same day, State Treasurer Fiona Ma will have a reception.

US Vice President Kamala Harris wearing formal wear smiles while she hugs an unidentifiable woman, also wearing formal wear, in a formal dining room setting with an out of focus flower arrangment in the foreground.
Vice President Kamala Harris, right, hugs a guest as she arrives for a toast during an official State Dinner in honor of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House in June. | Source: Stefani Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

The next night, top business leaders will convene back at the Asian Art Museum for another welcome reception. APEC external partner GlobalSF will throw its event as well. Also on Tuesday, Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Gov. Gavin Newsom are expected to attend a fundraiser dinner hosted by Bay Area wealthy donors. Lastly, the Bay Area Council’s boat party will spotlight Japanese officials.

Wednesday might be Xu’s busiest evening of all because of Biden’s reception and the head of states private dinners. The CEO Summit gala, which will be at the Palace Hotel, is also that night. 

Thursday night is comparatively lighter, as San Francisco City Hall will host the foreign press for a party and top leaders will be at the Legion of Honor.

According to multiple sources, foreign governments and corporations, such as Visa, will also have events with selected invitees throughout the week. Visa, for instance, will host a party Monday at the Ferry Building. Salesforce is throwing a cocktail reception at the top of Salesforce Tower on Tuesday. 

However, uncertainty prevails. Because of these packed schedules, a hoped-for community concert at Chase Center is unlikely to happen, Xu said. There will also be an event in Downtown San Francisco hosted by the National Committee on United States-China Relations. Chinese President Xi may show up, Xu said.

First ladies will be busy, too. Based on advice Xu received from former President Barack Obama, the summit has planned trips for world leaders’ spouses to visit art museums and education facilities.

Han Li can be reached at