Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for December 14, 2022

Newsline: China removes six diplomats following Manchester consulate incident

China has removed six officials from Britain who police wanted to question over the treatment of a man who said he was kicked and punched while protesting outside the Chinese consulate in Manchester, British foreign minister James Cleverly said. Cleverly said the removal of the officials, including the consul general in Manchester, came after a police request to interview them over the incident. “I am disappointed that these individuals will not be interviewed or face justice,” Cleverly said in a written statement. Police had been investigating the alleged assault on a protester who was beaten by several men after being dragged inside the grounds of the consulate in northwest England during a demonstration against President Xi Jinping. “Images carried on social media showed what appeared to be completely unacceptable behaviour by a number of individuals near the entrance to the consular premises,” said Cleverly, who summoned the acting ambassador over the incident. (https://neuters.de/world/china-removes-six-officials-after-manchester-consulate-incident-uk-says-2022-12-14/) Cleverly said that police had requested six Chinese officials waive diplomatic immunity so they could be questioned and the embassy had been informed, giving them a week to act. “In response to our request, the Chinese government have now removed from the UK those officials, including the consul general himself,” Cleverly told broadcasters. Greater Manchester Police said in a statement it would continue to investigate the events surrounding the protest.

Newsline: No comment from Chinese embassy in Manila on vessels ‘swarming’ in disputed waters

The Chinese embassy in Manila refrained from comment on reported swarming of Chinese vessels in Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines’ defence chief on Wednesday said the reported presence of dozens of Chinese vessels in disputed waters in the South China Sea was an “unacceptable” action that violates the country’s sovereignty. “The president’s order to the department is clear – we will not give up a single square inch of Philippine territory,” Jose Faustino, the officer-in-charge at the Department of National Defense said in a statement. (https://neuters.de/world/philippines-concerned-over-chinese-vessels-swarming-disputed-waters-defence-2022-12-14/) Manila refers to the part of the South China Sea that it claims as the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines had won a landmark arbitration case in 2016, which invalidated Beijing’s expansive claims in the South China Sea where about $3 trillion worth of ship-borne trade passes annually. The ruling, which China refused to recognise, states that the Philippines has sovereign rights to exploit energy reserves inside its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone, where both Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal are located. Iroquois is 127 nautical miles from the Philippine island of Palawan in the disputed waters, which U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visited last month to reiterate Washington’s defence commitments to Manila and its support for the 2016 arbitration ruling. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr will go to Beijing next month for a state visit.

Newsline: U.S. intensifies Ukraine diplomacy

Nearly ten months into the war in Ukraine, the Biden administration is intensifying diplomatic efforts to ensure that the transatlantic alliance that opposes Russia’s invasion survives a bitter European winter. In the past weeks, the administration has scrambled to adjust its signature inflation legislation to appease European governments whose support it needs on Ukraine, and secured an agreement from the G7 nations to cap the price of Russian oil. “(This winter) Ukrainians will suffer and Russia may just continue to make it harder,” said one senior European diplomat. “It may be more and more difficult for Europeans to preserve their unity and continue to deliver weapons, cash and assistance to Ukraine.” (https://neuters.de/world/europe/us-accelerates-ukraine-diplomacy-europe-slides-into-winter-2022-12-13/) President Joe Biden also briefly moderated his strong opposition to talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a signal to allies restless for a negotiated end to the conflict. The Ukraine war is also the backdrop for the U.S.-Africa Summit, a relationship-building exercise that started on Tuesday and brings together the leaders of 49 African nations, many of whom have expressed frustration with paying the economic price for the war, which the United Nations says has worsened a global food crisis. The coalition of countries opposing Russia’s invasion – from NATO members to U.S. allies such as Japan and Australia – has proven resilient, defying predictions that rising energy prices in part caused by the war could fracture the grouping. But sustaining that united front has required diplomacy and compromise, say diplomats and U.S. officials, and will likely require more as the European winter tests the public’s support for Ukraine.