Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for August 2, 2022

Newsline: Nancy Pelosi Arrives in Taiwan despite China’s Warnings of Disastrous Consequences

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan on Tuesday, defying stern warnings from Beijing against a visit that China’s Communist Party regards as a challenge to its sovereignty. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/nancy-pelosi-heads-to-taipei-as-china-warns-of-disastrous-consequences-11659442605) Mrs. Pelosi, the highest-ranking U.S. official in a quarter-century to visit the island, which Beijing claims as part of its territory, is set to meet Wednesday with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and legislators in the self-ruled democracy.

Newsline: Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit Seen Creating a Global Foreign-Policy Crisis for No Reason at All

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is headed to Taiwan, undertaking a foreign-policy spectacle few asked for and even fewer need. Pelosi, both a liberal and a China hawk, launched her tour of Asia Sunday and has intimated she’ll end up in Taiwan, despite warnings from Chinese leaders that her arrival could provoke a military response. She will reportedly meet with Taiwan’s president on Wednesday. It would be the highest-level visit by an American official in 25 years. There is nothing immediately tangible that Pelosi can accomplish by going to Taiwan, which China has threatened with invasion for some time. It’s unclear how Pelosi’s unsanctioned visit will make a Chinese invasion any less likely. The speaker may inadvertently inflame tensions between China and Taiwan if she visits, putting Taiwanese citizens in danger. Pelosi will be viewed by the Chinese as an American official driving a confrontation. Military retribution — aimed at the United States, Taiwan, or both — could come next. (https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/08/nancy-pelosi-taiwan-trip-dangerous-stunt.html) Some may argue Pelosi is doing what doves want: diplomacy. The question becomes whether such a visit will heighten tensions between the U.S. and China and accelerate China’s timeline for a takeover of Taiwan. The answer seems to be, on all counts, yes. If Pelosi makes her visit, an emboldened, enraged China may reject diplomacy altogether and speed up plans for an invasion or further encroachment. The United States, in turn, could be dragged into a war. In such a confrontation, many Taiwanese would inevitably die. An incapacitated Taiwan would also destabilize the global economy in a way that would make the crisis in Ukraine look quaint. A mass semiconductor shortage could imperil much of modern technology. There are ways, in the interim, to defuse the Pelosi-manufactured crisis. The United States could quietly ask Taiwan’s leadership to tell Pelosi to stay away. Taiwan cannot realistically benefit if Pelosi follows through and shows up there. She offers nothing, at this point, but provocation.

Newsline: Video of angry Norwegian diplomat fuels conflict

A Norwegian diplomat, angry that someone had tampered with her things in a Murmansk hotel room earlier this summer, unleashed a torrent of abuse against hotel staff that was captured on surveillance video. Portions of the video have since been released to media in both Russia and abroad, embarrassing both the diplomat and the Norwegian government. “I hate the Russians,” fumed the diplomat while accusing the hotel of also violating the accommodation of a colleague at the hotel as they were in the process of closing Norway’s consulate in Murmansk. She also complained that the cleanliness of her room was not up to her standards from Scandinavia, calling the hotel staff “a disgrace” and swearing at them repeatedly. (https://www.newsinenglish.no/2022/07/31/video-of-angry-diplomat-fuels-conflict/) Norway’s foreign ministry has apologized for the incident and claimed it in no way illustrated Norwegian policy or Norwegian attitudes towards Russians. The ministry wouldn’t directly comment on whether the diplomat faces punitive action, saying only that the case “would now be handled internally.”

Newsline: Taiwan’s foreign ministry silent on Pelosi’s visit

Taiwan’s foreign ministry has stayed silent so far, declining to confirm the visit again on Tuesday. Taiwan always welcomes international visitors to gain a better understanding and display their support, spokeswoman Joanne Ou said at briefing in Taipei. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/pelosi-controversial-visit-nears-taiwan-085346320.html) The muted political response in Taiwan may be imitated by other states across Asia. The furor around Pelosi’s visit risks straining relations throughout the region as governments confront the reality of ratcheting tensions between the world’s two largest economies. Both the US and China have sent diplomats to engage with Southeast Asian leaders. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to visit Cambodia and the Philippines in August. As Pelosi makes planned stops through Singapore and Malaysia, it’s likely that local officials will try to avoid being seen too closely allied with Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. Still, there is some unease over the visit, with tensions across the Taiwan Strait at their highest level since 1996 when Lee Teng-hui was elected president in Taiwan’s first direct election.

Newsline: Chinese ambassador pledges to support UN

China is a firm supporter of the United Nations in its role in addressing global challenges, upholding peace and security, and promoting common development, said Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, on Monday. (https://english.news.cn/20220802/fd7e43d7d02a47cf8afe30cfcb5bc1d6/c.html) In a press briefing on China’s Security Council presidency for the month of August, Zhang said that the United Nations is a banner of multilateralism and a symbol of collective strength and that its role will remain irreplaceable no matter how the international situation may change. However, he said, the United Nations does not exist in a vacuum. The strength of the world body originates from the support and contribution of its member states. In this regard, major countries, in particular, should take the lead in carrying out their obligations and playing a responsible role, he said. He said China is committed to practicing true multilateralism.

Newsline: Western embassies on high alert in Kenya

Tens of thousands of students across Kenya have been ordered to return home as the country’s biggest election in years is only a week away. Western embassies are on high alert and most have started sending pre-election warnings to their citizens, ranging from warnings to leave the country if you can (Germany) to have your ‘grab and go bag’ ready (New Zealand). (https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/one-week-to-go-schools-close-and-embassies-on-high-alert-as-a-tense-kenya-nervously-counts-down-to-election-day/ar-AA10dm0o) In an election campaign that is increasingly turning ugly, with accusations of corruption, land grabbing and power abuse flying left, right and centre, Kenyans are nervously awaiting what election day, and particularly its aftermath, will bring. People are urged to stay close to home and sock up on food, water, rice and pasta, if possible. Power outages and WiFi disruption is also expected next week.