Diplomatic Briefing

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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: 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: 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.

Newsline: Former U.S. Ambassador to China Compares Trump and Biden on Foreign Relations

Bellevue College Interim President and former U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, says what President Trump has done with China has hurt both China and the U.S. Ambassador Locke believes Biden will reset relations. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2020-11-04/former-u-s-ambassador-to-china-compares-trump-and-biden-on-foreign-relations-and-virus-response-video) He also discusses the coronavirus response, division in the U.S., and inclusiveness of the democratic party.

Newsline: China complains to Canada after media skewers ambassador’s comments on Hong Kong

China said Monday that it has complained to Canada for allegedly condoning anti-China comments that appeared in Canadian media following controversial remarks made by the Chinese ambassador. Ties between the countries are at their lowest point in years amid China’s outrage over Canada’s detention of a top executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. Last week, China’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, branded pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong as violent criminals and said if Canada grants them asylum it would amount to interference in China’s internal affairs. “If the Canadian side really cares about the stability and the prosperity in Hong Kong, and really cares about the good health and safety of those 300,000 Canadian passport-holders in Hong Kong, and the large number of Canadian companies operating in Hong Kong SAR, you should support those efforts to fight violent crimes,” Cong said last week in a video news conference from the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa. On Saturday, the Toronto Sun published an editorial calling on Cong to either apologize or leave Canada. “It’s not enough for the Trudeau government to publicly scold Cong,” the paper said. “If he won’t apologize and retract his threats, boot him back to Beijing.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian did not identify specific comments that he said resulted from a deliberate misinterpretation of Cong’s remarks, but said Canadian leaders “did not verify, but also condoned the anti-China comments spreading across the nation and made groundless accusations against China.” (https://www.cp24.com/world/china-complains-to-canada-after-media-skewers-ambassador-s-comments-on-hong-kong-1.5150627) “We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to it and have lodged solemn complaints with the Canadian side,” Zhao told reporters Monday at a daily briefing.

Newsline: China complains to Canada after media skewers ambassador’s comments on Hong Kong

China said Monday that it has complained to Canada for allegedly condoning anti-China comments that appeared in Canadian media following controversial remarks made by the Chinese ambassador. Ties between the countries are at their lowest point in years amid China’s outrage over Canada’s detention of a top executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. Last week, China’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, branded pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong as violent criminals and said if Canada grants them asylum it would amount to interference in China’s internal affairs. “If the Canadian side really cares about the stability and the prosperity in Hong Kong, and really cares about the good health and safety of those 300,000 Canadian passport-holders in Hong Kong, and the large number of Canadian companies operating in Hong Kong SAR, you should support those efforts to fight violent crimes,” Cong said last week in a video news conference from the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa. On Saturday, the Toronto Sun published an editorial calling on Cong to either apologize or leave Canada. “It’s not enough for the Trudeau government to publicly scold Cong,” the paper said. “If he won’t apologize and retract his threats, boot him back to Beijing.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian did not identify specific comments that he said resulted from a deliberate misinterpretation of Cong’s remarks, but said Canadian leaders “did not verify, but also condoned the anti-China comments spreading across the nation and made groundless accusations against China.” (https://www.cp24.com/world/china-complains-to-canada-after-media-skewers-ambassador-s-comments-on-hong-kong-1.5150627) “We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to it and have lodged solemn complaints with the Canadian side,” Zhao told reporters Monday at a daily briefing.

Newsline: US Ambassador’s to China Son Who Got Rich

In April 2018, the Trump administration banned Chinese telecom equipment giant ZTE from buying American-made parts, threatening to cripple the company’s worldwide operations. An opening salvo in Trump’s trade war with China, the measure was extreme. But ZTE had violated export controls by selling technology to Iran and North Korea, then breached an agreement with the Commerce Department in which it had pledged to stop. Moreover, ZTE makes technology that can be used for surveillance and has ties to the Chinese military. Just one month later, however, President Donald Trump unexpectedly tweeted that he might be open to a deal that would free ZTE from the Commerce Department penalty, known as a denial order. “Too many jobs in China lost,” he wrote. Republican lawmakers, Washington analysts, and Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton were aghast. Bolton later called the sudden reversal “policy by personal whim and impulse.” But the White House moved forward anyway. By early June, Commerce and ZTE had reached a preliminary deal. In July, the Commerce Department lifted the ban. ZTE’s path back into business with American suppliers has long been shrouded in mystery. Some critics highlighted the role of lobbyists working for ZTE. Shortly after the Commerce Department penalized ZTE, a law firm representing the Chinese company started paying the lobbying outfit Mercury Public Affairs $75,000 a month to unwind the order. Mercury partner and former Trump campaign adviser Bryan Lanza took on the account. But an Intercept investigation has found that Lanza traveled to China with a Mercury colleague and fellow Trump campaign veteran: former Commerce Department official Eric Branstad, who is also the son of Terry Branstad, then Trump’s ambassador to China. (https://theintercept.com/2020/10/15/eric-branstad-trump-china-ambassador/) Eric Branstad was close with Trump and had joined Mercury just three months earlier, after a stint advising Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. He had a checkered past, marred by killing two people in a car crash when he was a teenager, and had made money off his relationships with his father and Trump. In his home state of Iowa, his activities would spark comparisons to Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Ex-Ambassador Terry Branstad’s ties to China extend back decades, to a 1985 trip that Xi Jinping made to Iowa when the Chinese leader was deputy party secretary of Hebei province, Iowa’s sister state.

Newsline: China ambassador makes veiled threat to Hong Kong-based Canadians

China’s ambassador to Canada has appeared to threaten Hong Kong-based Canadians if Ottawa offers asylum to protesters from the territory. Cong Peiwu made the comments at a news conference on Thursday where he also accused Canada of being an “accomplice” to the US in detaining Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou. Canada is among several countries that suspended extradition agreements with Hong Kong in response to Beijing’s imposition of a sweeping national security law in June. Dozens of MPs recently called for Canada to offer “safe harbour” to pro-democracy protesters fleeing Hong Kong, prompting the warning from Cong. “We strongly urge the Canadian side not to grant so-called political asylum to those violent criminals in Hong Kong, because it is interference in China’s domestic affairs, and certainly it will embolden those violent criminals,” Cong said. “If the Canadian side really cares about the stability and prosperity in Hong Kong, and really cares about the good health and safety of those 300,000 Canadian passport holders in Hong Kong, and a large number of Canadian companies operating in Hong Kong, you should support those efforts to fight violent crimes.” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/16/china-ambassador-makes-veiled-threat-to-hong-kong-based-canadians) When asked if his words were a threat, Cong reportedly replied: “That is your interpretation.” Canadian foreign affairs minister, François-Philippe Champagne, said Cong’s comments were inappropriate and he had instructed the ministry to call in the ambassador for a meeting. “The reported comments by the Chinese ambassador are totally unacceptable and disturbing,” Champagne told the Globe and Mail.

Newsline: China denies ‘coercive’ diplomacy with Canada

China denied it had taken two Canadian men hostage, and repeated a call for the release of a Huawei Technologies Co Ltd executive held in Canada who faces extradition to the United States amid a long-running diplomatic dispute. Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese citizen, was arrested in Vancouver in late 2018 on a bank fraud warrant issued by U.S. authorities. Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition in a Canadian court. Shortly after Meng’s arrest, Beijing detained two Canadians on national security charges and halted imports of canola seed. Tensions flared again this week when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would work with allies to fight China’s “coercive diplomacy.” He warned that arbitrary arrests, repression in Hong Kong and putting Muslim minorities in detention camps added up to “not a particularly productive path. That earned him an official rebuke from the Chinese government. “There’s no coercive diplomacy on the Chinese side,” Cong Peiwu, China’s envoy to Ottawa, said in a video news conference on Twitter. “Those two Canadian citizens have been prosecuted because they were suspected of engaging in activities which endanger our national security.” (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-canada-diplomacy/china-denies-coercive-diplomacy-with-canada-urges-release-of-huawei-executive-idUSKBN2702IM) Cong went on to say Meng and the arrests of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were “not related” and that it was Canada that used “coercive measures” by arresting Meng when “she was breaking no Canadian law at all.”