Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 28, 2023

Newsline: China ambassador arrives in North Korea

China said Tuesday its new ambassador to North Korea has taken up his post, in a sign the North is reopening amid reports it has been suffering heavily from the COVID-19 pandemic and food shortages. Wang Yajun will help in the development of the traditional friendship between the “close neighbors sharing mountains and rivers,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a daily briefing. (https://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/politics/article/china-ambassador-arrives-in-north-korea-in-sign-17863795.php) China is North Korea’s main source of economic aid and political support, but interactions have been disrupted by travel restrictions imposed in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Newsline: Israeli Embassy in U.S. Closes

The Embassy to Israel of the United States in Washington closed with no indication of when it would reopen, joining a call by Israel’s largest labor union for government workers to protest recent legislative changes proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Monday, the Israeli Embassy in Washington responded to Histadrut’s request for strike and closed its offices until further notice. “Today (3/27), the Histadrut, Israel’s largest labor union, instructed all government employees to go on strike, including Israel’s diplomatic missions around the world. The Embassy of Israel will be closed today until further notice and no consular services will be provided,” embassy spokesperson Elad Strohmayer told Newsweek in a statement. (https://www.newsweek.com/israeli-embassy-us-closes-massive-protests-engulf-netanyahu-1790589) Embassy services, such as filling visa requests or renewing passports, will likely be affected by the closure, although many Israelis might welcome the inconvenience in a show of solidarity. The strikes and protests are the latest examples of unrest in Israel since the November elections. At the end of 2022, Netanyahu and Israel’s most far-right government in the nation’s history proposed a series of legislative changes that would drastically overhaul the nation’s judicial system and greatly limit the power of the Supreme Court of Israel. Thousands of Israelis have protested daily since the elections, and on Monday, Histadrut—Israel’s largest labor union—called for its members to strike. Histadrut’s members span countless sectors in the economy, from government officials to health and banking.

Newsline: China says diplomatic deal with Honduras without conditions

China’s establishment of diplomatic relations with Honduras was a political decision without conditions attached, China’s foreign ministry said. “Diplomatic ties are not something for trade,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular news briefing, in response to a question on whether China would give Honduras almost $2.5 billion the Central American country had earlier sought from Taiwan. (https://neuters.de/world/china/china-says-diplomatic-deal-with-honduras-political-decision-without-conditions-2023-03-27/) Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina wrote to Taiwan this month asking for almost $2.5 billion in aid, including a loan of $2 billion to help write off debt as well as funds for the construction of a hospital and a dam, according to copy of the letter seen by Reuters. Taiwan said in the days leading to China and Honduras announcing diplomatic ties that Chinese involvement was obvious, and that Taiwan would not engage in “meaningless” dollar diplomacy with China. Honduras announced at the weekend it had opened formal ties with Beijing and ended its decades-long relationship with Taiwan. Taiwan now has formal diplomatic relations with just 13 countries, mostly poor and developing nations in Central America, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Taipei and Beijing accuse each other of using “dollar diplomacy” in their competition for allies. China and Honduras signed the deal on diplomatic recognition in Beijing over the weekend, ending relations with Taiwan dating back to the 1940s.