Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for June 2, 2022

Newsline: China demands US stop trade talks with Taiwan

China’s government on Thursday accused Washington of jeopardizing peace after U.S. envoys began trade talks with Taiwan aimed at deepening relations with the self-ruled island democracy claimed by Beijing. Talks that started Wednesday cover trade, regulation and other areas based on “shared values” as market-oriented economies, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. It did not mention China but the talks add to gestures that show U.S. support for Taiwan amid menacing behavior by Beijing, which threatens to invade. Trade dialogues “disrupt peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” said a foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian. He called on Washington to “stop negotiating agreements with Taiwan that have sovereign connotations and official nature.” (https://news.yahoo.com/china-demands-us-stop-trade-093116808.html) Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war that ended with the ruling Communist Party’s victory on the mainland. They have multibillion-dollar trade and investment ties but no official relations. Beijing says Taiwan has no right to conduct foreign relations. The United States has diplomatic relations only with Beijing but extensive informal ties with Taiwan. The U.S. government is committed by federal law to see that the island has the means to defend itself.

Newsline: ‘Warmongers’ Projected on Side of U.S. Embassy Building in Moscow

A video displayed on the side of America’s diplomatic building in Moscow showed images of children killed in a separatist region of eastern Ukraine, as the projection said their blood was “on the hands of U.S. warmongers.” (https://www.newsweek.com/warmongers-projected-side-us-embassy-building-moscow-1712289) The grim video was cast on the U.S. embassy to coincide with Children’s Day, a June 1 holiday celebrated in former Soviet countries intended to honor youth and call out child abuse. Russian state media shared the video, which was displayed as Moscow seeks greater control over a region of eastern Ukraine and to drum up support for its war, now more than 3 months old. The video stated that the U.S. military “bears full responsibility for all the dead children of (Donbas),” according to state-run RIA Novosti news agency. The unnamed organizers of the stunt told state media they hoped the video would serve as a reminder of the U.S. military’s backing of Ukraine’s pro-Western government, which Russian officials have sought to depict as “Nazis.”

Newsline: French diplomats on rare strike

Members of the French diplomatic corps are dropping their traditional reserve to go on a rare strike Thursday, angered by a planned reform they worry will hurt their careers and France’s standing in the world. Some ambassadors and numerous diplomats, in posts ranging from Tokyo to the Middle East and Washington, have said they would honor the day-long strike. They want President Emmanuel Macron to scrap a plan to merge career diplomats with a larger body of civil servants, starting in January. The action, announced by Macron in an April decree, will reportedly affect about 800 diplomats. Opponents claim that’s just the beginning. “We risk the disappearance of our professional diplomacy,” a group of 500 diplomats, wrote in a commentary published last week in Le Monde newspaper. “Today, (diplomatic) agents … are convinced it is the very existence of the ministry that is now being put into question.” (https://www.boston25news.com/news/world/frank-exchange-views/WWX4VW7A5SPU5ZHIQ5E66UIV44/) Union leaders said Thursday’s job action is only the second strike by French diplomats in 20 years. A protest is planned near the imposing French foreign ministry complex known as the Quai d’Orsay, on the River Seine.

Newsline: Australia’s History-Making Top Diplomat Faces Down Rising China

Penny Wong has already made history as both the first Asian-born and openly gay woman to become Australia’s top diplomat. Now she’s quickly confronting the nation’s most difficult geopolitical challenge in decades. Within days of being sworn in on May 23, Wong — born to a Chinese Malaysian father — rushed to Fiji to counter a rare trip to nearby Pacific island countries by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. He aimed to sign a sweeping regional deal to entrench Beijing’s influence after reaching a security agreement with the Solomon Islands that may allow naval ships to dock some 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from Australia’s coast. A trained lawyer, the 53-year-old Wong said Australian aid wouldn’t come “with strings attached, nor impose unsustainable financial burdens” — a pointed reference to China’s agreements with developing countries around the world. She later said the security of Pacific island nations “needed to be determined by the region” and is taking a second trip, this time to Tonga and Samoa on Wednesday. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/australia-history-making-top-diplomat-100044722.html) Wong’s defiant tone contrasted with China’s measured official stance since her appointment, as Beijing seeks to reset relations with Australia following the election of left-leaning Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.