Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for July 8, 2022

Newsline: Russian parliament’s upper house bans British diplomats

The Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament, on Friday barred British diplomats, including the ambassador, from entering its building. Speaking at a livestreamed session of the upper chamber’s rules committee on Friday, senator Grigory Karasin said that the ban was in response to a British decision to exclude Russian diplomats from its parliament. (https://whtc.com/2022/07/08/russian-parliaments-upper-house-bans-british-diplomats/) Britain’s Guardian newspaper on June 20 reported that Russian diplomats were banned from visiting the country’s parliament.

Newsline: Russian Top Diplomat Stomps Out of G20 After Western Counterparts Spurn Group Photo Op

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov left the G20 summit in Bali early Friday after Western leaders ignored him and refused to be pictured alongside him in a customary photo op as his country waged its brutal war on Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was said to have led the “family photo” boycott, with other G7 colleagues joining Blinken in giving Lavrov the cold shoulder. It’s thought the photo op might go ahead without Lavrov following his departure Friday. “In terms of meeting with me, the declaration that they won’t be photographed with me—I never asked anyone to be photographed,” Lavrov insisted in a Friday interview with Russian state TV. (https://www.thedailybeast.com/russian-foreign-minister-sergei-lavrov-leaves-g20-meeting-early-after-western-leaders-spurn-group-photo-op) The Russian foreign minister had a torrid time on the Indonesian island this week, where diplomats also snubbed a dinner Thursday night because Lavrov would be attending.

Newsline: G-20 top diplomats struggle for unity

Deeply divided top diplomats from the world’s richest and largest developing nations struggled to find common ground Friday over Russia’s war in Ukraine and how to deal with its global impacts. Group of 20 foreign ministers heard an emotional plea for unity and an end to the war from their Indonesian host. All the main players were there, marking the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and many others have been in the same room. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi urged the group — which included Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Blinken and several European counterparts — to overcome mistrust for the sake of a planet confronting multiple challenges from coronavirus to climate change as well as Ukraine. (https://www.marketwatch.com/story/g-20-diplomats-struggle-for-unity-on-ukraine-01657266414) Yet, consensus appeared to remain elusive amid deepening East-West splits driven by China and Russia on one side and the United States and Europe on the other.

Newsline: China wants sewer pipe moved before building new embassy in New Zealand

The Chinese embassy in capital city Wellington and local New Zealand authorities on Friday confirmed they are in talks about moving a sewage pipe running beneath a new building site. China was given consent to build a new embassy in 2018 but the site has remained undeveloped. The sewage pipe is 800 mm (31.5 inches) in diameter and runs across the proposed site. A spokesperson for the embassy said China has been working with the Wellington City Council on what to do about the pipe “to create the necessary conditions for the construction of the embassy to proceed”. The embassy spokesperson noted concerns about “the future maintenance and possible repair” of the pipe. A city council spokesman said lots of buildings have pipes under them so it shouldn’t be an undue problem. “However, we understand why the embassy may consider the pipes pose a security risk,” the spokesman said, without listing any specific risks. (https://news.yahoo.com/china-wants-sewer-pipe-moved-053647256.html) The city council spokesman said the embassy would have to pay any costs for relocating the pipe.

Newsline: Chinese Foreign Ministry blasts US, British intelligence services over spying claims

China has accused the United States of being “the biggest threat to world peace, stability and development”, in response to accusations by the heads of security services in Washington and London that Chinese spying is a global threat and China is threatening international order. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s comments on Thursday came a day after the head of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the leader of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5, raised fresh alarms about the Chinese government, warning business leaders that Beijing is determined to steal their technology for competitive gain. “The relevant US politician has been playing up the so-called China threat to smear and attack China,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing when asked about FBI Director Christopher Wray’s comments denouncing economic espionage and hacking operations by China and the Chinese government’s efforts to stifle dissent abroad. “Facts have fully proven that the US is the biggest threat to world peace, stability and development,” Zhao said. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/7/7/china-blasts-us-british-intelligence-services-over-spying-claims) The heightened tone from Beijing also comes ahead of a meeting on Saturday between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Group of 20 (G20) leading rich and developing nations’ ministers summit in Bali, Indonesia.