Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Asia

Newsline: China praises British diplomat for saving drowning woman

Beijing on Tuesday praised a British diplomat who was filmed diving into a river in southern China to save a drowning student, a rare warm moment between two countries at loggerheads over human rights. Britain’s mission in the southwestern city of Chongqing said Monday that Consul General Stephen Ellison leapt into action at the weekend to save a woman who had fallen into a river coursing through a nearby tourist town. The video on Chinese social media — viewed more than 170 million times in China — shows Ellison pulling off his shoes and jumping in to rescue the woman, who was floating face down. “I think he should be commended for his act of bravery. I’d like to give him a big, big thumbs up,” said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a routine briefing Tuesday. Ellison’s actions also earned praise from British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who tweeted: “His bravery and commitment demonstrates the very best of British diplomats around the world.” (https://news.yahoo.com/china-praises-british-diplomat-saving-092331677.html) The 61-year-old former engineer had only recently been appointed to the role in the southern metropolis after serving for years at the main embassy in Beijing, and is an accomplished triathlete, according to local media reports.

Newsline: Pakistani protesters call for French ambassador to be expelled from country

Thousands of supporters of a radical Islamist party in Pakistan continued to protest over depictions of the Prophet Muhammad in France that they deem blasphemous. They were angered by remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron in the wake of the murder of French teacher Samuel Paty. Macron defended the freedom of expression to produce the cartoons and attacked “Islamist separatism”. The protesters in Pakistan — supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party — called for the expulsion of the French ambassador in Islamabad. They also want to cut diplomatic relations with France and withdraw their ambassador from the country. Muhammad Latif, a protester at the event in Islamabad, said: “We love our prophet, we will give our life for the respect and honour of Prophet Muhammad, we will give our life but can’t accept the French ambassador’s presence here.” (https://www.euronews.com/2020/11/16/pakistani-protesters-call-for-french-ambassador-to-be-expelled-from-country) The sit-in, which has continued at an important intersection, started unplanned at the end of a protest march from Rawalpindi led by TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, despite resistance by police on Sunday night. TLP supporters defied the security arrangements of police and the administration and clashed with security forces at different points on the way to the Faizabad intersection.

Newsline: Hungarian diplomat in Bangkok tests positive for coronavirus

Health authorities in Thailand said that a Hungarian diplomat in Bangkok has tested positive for the coronavirus, and is believed to have become infected through contact with his country’s foreign minister, who tested positive last week during an abortive official visit. Cambodian officials had also said that Hungary’s ambassador to Cambodia and Vietnam had tested positive for the coronavirus in the wake of a one-day visit to Cambodia by Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. Szijjarto was found to be infected when he was tested on arrival in Thailand from Cambodia. The unnamed 53-year-old Hungarian diplomat in Bangkok is the only locally transmitted case in Thailand so far to be linked to Szijjarto. He was described as asymptomatic but tested positive, and was sent to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Bangkok’s northern suburbs for treatment. Szijjarto had been sent to the same facility before flying back to Hungary. Sopon Iamsirithaworn, director of the Division of Communicable Diseases of the Department of Disease Control, said the diplomat sat in the same car and had a quick dinner with Szijjarto on the day he arrived in Bangkok. After the foreign minister tested positive, the diplomat was quarantined at home, and transferred to the isolation facility after testing positive. (https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/hungarian-diplomat-in-bangkok-tests-positive-for-coronavirus/) The diplomat was not identified by name. However, in response to reporters’ questions, Sopon referred to him as “ambassador.” Hungary’s embassy in Thailand did not reply to questions for further details.

Newsline: Chinese Ambassador to the UK summoned to the FCDO

The FCDO Permanent Under-Secretary has summoned the Chinese Ambassador to the UK to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The Chinese Ambassador was summoned to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. The Permanent Under-Secretary set out that China’s imposition of new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong was a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The Permanent Under-Secretary said that Beijing’s latest actions are an assault on Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Joint Declaration. (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chinese-ambassador-to-the-uk-summoned-to-the-fcdo) He called on China to uphold its international obligations.

Newsline: American Citizen Says He Was Denied Refuge in Hong Kong’s U.S. Consulate

An American citizen facing prosecution related to his participation in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong said he was turned away after seeking protection at the U.S. consulate in the city. “I am running out of options,” said the man, Ansen Wong, a 20-year-old student-turned-activist. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-citizen-says-he-was-turned-away-after-seekingrefugein-u-s-consulate-in-hong-kong-11604863457) Mr. Wong was convicted this year on a charge of taking part in illicit protests in Hong Kong.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Pakistan Apologizes for Retweeting Anti-Trump Post

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad apologized on Wednesday after saying that its official Twitter account had been used without permission to retweet an anti-Trump post from a Pakistani opposition politician and rival of Prime Minister Imran Khan. “The U.S. Embassy Islamabad Twitter account was accessed last night without authorization,” the American diplomatic mission said in a message on Twitter. “The U.S. Embassy does not endorse the posting or retweeting of political messages,” the post added. “We apologize for any confusion that may have resulted.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/11/world/asia/pakistan-embassy-retweet.html) The opposition politician who was retweeted, Ahsan Iqbal, is a former federal minister who is a member of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party. On Tuesday night, Mr. Iqbal posted an image of a Washington Post headline, “Trump’s defeat is a blow to world’s demagogues and dictators,” with the comment: “We have one in Pakistan too. He will be shown way out soon,” referring to Mr. Khan, the prime minister. The U.S. Embassy’s account retweeted Mr. Iqbal’s message, causing an uproar on social media in Pakistan. The hashtag #ApologiseUSembassy was trending on Twitter in the country on Wednesday, when the retweet was deleted. There was no immediate indication that the account had been hacked, but the embassy declined to comment further.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Pakistan Apologizes for Retweeting Anti-Trump Post

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad apologized on Wednesday after saying that its official Twitter account had been used without permission to retweet an anti-Trump post from a Pakistani opposition politician and rival of Prime Minister Imran Khan. “The U.S. Embassy Islamabad Twitter account was accessed last night without authorization,” the American diplomatic mission said in a message on Twitter. “The U.S. Embassy does not endorse the posting or retweeting of political messages,” the post added. “We apologize for any confusion that may have resulted.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/11/world/asia/pakistan-embassy-retweet.html) The opposition politician who was retweeted, Ahsan Iqbal, is a former federal minister who is a member of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party. On Tuesday night, Mr. Iqbal posted an image of a Washington Post headline, “Trump’s defeat is a blow to world’s demagogues and dictators,” with the comment: “We have one in Pakistan too. He will be shown way out soon,” referring to Mr. Khan, the prime minister. The U.S. Embassy’s account retweeted Mr. Iqbal’s message, causing an uproar on social media in Pakistan. The hashtag #ApologiseUSembassy was trending on Twitter in the country on Wednesday, when the retweet was deleted. There was no immediate indication that the account had been hacked, but the embassy declined to comment further.

Newsline: Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Elected to Senate

Republican Bill Hagerty has won an open U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee, replacing retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R). Hagerty, who defeated Democrat Marquita Bradshaw, served as U.S. ambassador to Japan under President Trump from 2017 to 2019. When he stepped down as ambassador, Hagerty said, “These past two years have been the greatest of our lives. We will return to Tennessee with the warmest memories of this beautiful nation and the Japanese people. We will forever cherish the hospitality we have been shown here.” (http://www.rafu.com/2020/11/former-u-s-ambassador-to-japan-elected-to-senate/) Hagerty also fostered U.S.-Japan ties for three years from the late 1980s to the early 1990s while working in Tokyo for the Boston Consulting Group.

Newsline: South Korea’s top diplomat to visit U.S. amid election uncertainty

South Korea’s top diplomat plans to visit Washington next week, officials said on Thursday, as Seoul pledged a solid alliance with the United States regardless of the presidential election results. South Korea’s foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha will arrive in Washington on Sunday for a four day stay, the ministry said. The trip came at the invitation from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who cancelled his planned visit to Seoul last month after Trump tested positive for the coronavirus. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-southkorea/south-koreas-top-diplomat-to-visit-u-s-amid-election-uncertainty-idUSKBN27L0AF) The ministers will hold a meeting over bilateral and regional issues including stalled talks aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes in exchange for U.S. sanctions relief. Despite uncertainty over the U.S. election, South Korea’s presidential Blue House said it would maintain the “solid” alliance whoever wins the White House.

Newsline: Former ambassador says U.S.-China tensions won’t go away no matter who wins presidential election

The United States needs to adopt a multilateral approach in dealing with China, according to a former U.S. ambassador. Relations between Washington and Beijing have worsened over the last few years due to a trade war between the two countries, U.S. sanctions against Chinese companies and increased American support for Taiwan as well as India. President Donald Trump and his administration have blamed China for its unfair trade practices, intellectual property theft, and more recently, the coronavirus pandemic. “A multilateral approach is the only way to be successful and to really get China to take these issues seriously,” Gary Locke, a former U.S. ambassador to China during the Obama administration, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Wednesday morning. (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/04/us-elections-gary-locke-on-us-china-relation.html) “Because if the rest of the world is not involved and it’s only involving the United States, then the United States will lose. Our consumers and our companies will lose,” Locke said. Vote counting is currently underway for the 2020 presidential election where President Donald Trump is running against former Vice President Joe Biden.