Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for June 14, 2022

Newsline: China Diplomat’s Transfer Upends Foreign Minister Predictions

China’s decision to transfer one of its most high-profile diplomats — and most senior Russia experts — to a state media regulator is fanning speculation over who will be foreign minister after an upcoming reshuffle. Former Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, 59, who has frequently stood in for Foreign Minister Wang Yi in recent months, has been appointed as the deputy director of the National Radio and Television Administration, according to a statement posted on a government website. The lateral move out of the Foreign Ministry removes the Russian-speaking Le from the running to replace Wang, 68, one of China’s most visible officials on the world stage. The transfer comes as the ruling Communist Party shifts officials around in preparation for a twice-a-decade party congress later this year, in which President Xi Jinping, 68, is expected to secure a third term as leader. The event will overhaul the party’s top ranks, clearing the way for subsequent changes to top government jobs. Under traditional retirement rules, the country’s top diplomatic official, Politburo member Yang Jiechi, 72, would be expected to step down. That opens the possibility for Wang, who also holds the title of state counselor, to take up Yang’s more senior role leading the party’s foreign affairs commission. It wasn’t immediately clear why Le had been moved out of the Foreign Ministry hierarchy. The move will increase scrutiny on other contenders, including Liu Jieyi, 64, the head of the Taiwan Affairs Office, and Liu Haixing, 59, an official with Xi’s National Security Commission. Earlier this month, Liu Jianchao, 58, was named as the head of the party’s International Liaison Department, which interacts with overseas political parties. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/china-diplomat-transfer-upends-foreign-124348944.html) Le served several stints in the former Soviet Union and Russia, before becoming ambassador to Kazakhstan in 2013. He became the Foreign Ministry’s No. 3 official in 2018, as Xi’s ties with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin flourished.

Newsline: South Korea’s top diplomat says North completed preparations for new nuclear test

South Korea’s top diplomat said that North Korea has completed preparations for a new nuclear test and that only a political decision by the country’s top leadership can prevent it from going forward. After talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said the North would pay a price if it goes ahead, as feared, with what would be its seventh nuclear test in the coming days. “North Korea has completed preparations for another nuclear test and I think only a political decision has to be made,” Park said. Prior to Monday, U.S. and South Korean officials had said only that the North was nearing completion of such preparations. “If North Korea ventures into another nuclear test, I think it will only strengthen our deterrence and also international sanctions,” Park said. “North Korea should change its mind and make the right decision.” Apart from sanctions, Park did not say what that price the North would pay or outline how the deterrence policy would change, but Blinken said the United States and treaty allies South Korea and Japan could adjust their military postures in response. “We’re preparing for all contingencies this in very close coordination with others and we are prepared to make both short and longer-term adjustments to our military posture,” Blinken said. He added that in addition, “the pressure will be sustained, it will continue and, as appropriate, it will be increased.” (https://www.wsbtv.com/news/politics/south-korea-says/GDPMHQCY5IFZFT2CF6O4SX73H4/) Both Park and Blinken men stressed the door to negotiations without any preconditions remains open for North Korea. But Blinken, repeating comments from numerous U.S. officials in recent days, lamented that North Korea continues to ignore overtures for dialogue.

Newsline: US national security adviser meets China’s top diplomat

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan met in Luxembourg on Monday with the top Chinese diplomat for a “candid, substantive, and productive discussion” at a tense moment between their two countries, according to the White House. (https://edition.cnn.com/2022/06/13/politics/sullivan-yang-china-meeting/index.html) The talks, which hadn’t been announced beforehand, ran four-and-a-half hours. They came as a potential precursor to a meeting between President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, which the White House has said is possible in the coming months. Disagreements on human rights, Taiwan, trade and China’s military expansion have caused strained relations between Washington and Beijing. Biden is also weighing whether to remove some tariffs on China that were imposed by former President Donald Trump in a bid to tame inflation in the United States. After Sullivan’s meeting with Yang Jiechi, a senior US administration official said to expect to “see additional potential meetings in the months ahead,” though they said nothing is currently being planned between Biden and Xi. Sullivan’s meeting with Yang came after a phone call last month ahead of Biden’s first visit to Asia. The White House has held a number of engagements over the past weeks to demonstrate its commitment to the Asia-Pacific, including hosting Southeast Asian leaders at the White House.

Newsline: Pride flags have been flown by U.S. embassies in Muslim majority countries

Pride flags have been flown outside U.S. embassies in Muslim majority countries. In 2022, a Pride flag was flown outside the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo, where the more than 95% of the population is Muslim. In 2021, the rainbow flag was flown for Pride at the U.S. Embassy in the UAE, whose official religion is Islam, the press attaché for the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi confirmed to Reuters by email. (https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-pride-flags-embassy-idUSL1N2Y01EU) Such displays followed a change in policy by the U.S. Department of State under the Biden administration to encourage, though not require, U.S. missions to fly the Pride flag.