Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for China

Newsline: Canada Summons Chinese Ambassador Repeatedly

Recently, the “police stations” that China has established in Canada have been a source of concern in Ottawa. The Canadian government has confirmed that it has repeatedly summoned the Chinese ambassador to request an end to these activities. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has emphasized that the government will ensure that the nation’s citizens are not subject to foreign government interference or impacted in their daily lives. In October of this year, international human rights organization Safeguard Defenders released a report revealing that China has set up at least 54 “police stations” in 30 countries around the world, three of which are located in the Greater Toronto area of Canada. Since this information was made public, it has garnered significant attention. Weldon Epp, the director of the Northeast Asia department of Canada’s Global Affairs department, explained at a meeting of the Canada-China Relations Committee that Ottawa takes this matter very seriously. He stated, “We have had multiple contacts with the Chinese side, summoning the ambassador multiple times to express our deep concerns. The Canadian government has formally demanded that the Chinese government, including the ambassador and embassy, be held accountable for any activities within Canada that are not part of the Vienna Convention and ensure that these activities are stopped.” (https://swarajyamag.com/world/canada-summons-chinese-ambassador-repeatedly-telling-him-to-stop-the-operation-of-ccp-police-stations-on-canadian-soil) The Chinese embassy in Canada issued a statement saying that the purpose of the service stations is to provide free services such as vision and hearing exams, as well as physical examinations, to Chinese citizens living abroad. This is meant to make it easier for them to replace driver’s licenses and other documents. According to the Vienna Convention, consular and administrative services should be provided by embassies and consulates.

Newsline: Israeli diplomat in China hospitalized in ‘prison conditions’ for COVID

An Israeli diplomat infected with COVID in China has revealed how he was forced to stay in a prison-like medical facility, where he was held in isolation for 10 “surreal” days. Israeli Consul-General in Shanghai Eddie Shapira said that he was sent to the facility “reminiscent of a prison” after coming down with mild symptoms. “I got sick with COVID and I recovered completely,” he wrote on Facebook. “I didn’t have any serious symptoms. The problem is that I caught it in the most wrong place on earth – in China.” The diplomat said that with even mild cases like his, the country treats patients as if it’s the early days of the pandemic. According to Shapira, “nothing could have prepared [him] for the experience,” even after working through the pandemic the past two years. (https://nypost.com/2022/12/05/israeli-diplomat-eddie-shapira-hospitalized-for-covid-in-china/) COVID patients are cordoned off in separate, designated hospitals for 10 days until they have fully recovered. Shapira described the hospital room where he received treatment as similar to an aquarium.

Newsline: Chinese ‘super embassy’ blocked in London

A Chinese bid for a “super embassy” on the site on the old Royal Mint near Tower Bridge has been blocked amid fierce opposition and a growing political rift between Westminster and Beijing. In a shock decision, Tower Hamlets council voted unanimously to reject planning permission for the new multi million pound development in the heart of central London, despite advisers recommending the new hub be given the go ahead. Councillors normally follow these recommendations. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/12/01/chinese-super-embassy-blocked-london-blow-xi-jinping/) The move will pile more pressure on London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Housing Secretary Michael Gove, who have a six-week challenge period in which they could decide to call in the verdict. Any public inquiry could take up to 18 months to resolve. Beijing’s new “super embassy” in London would be the largest of its kind in Europe and only around three miles away from Westminster.

Newsline: London councillors to vote on Chinese Embassy move

A decision about whether the Chinese Embassy can move to a site near the Tower of London is to be made later. Chinese officials want to move to Royal Mint Court from its current location in Portland Place, central London. Tower Hamlets Borough Council has received 51 objection letters from residents citing security, privacy and safety concerns. The planning application said it would deliver “significant improvements” to the area and create up to 20 jobs. (https://news.yahoo.com/chinese-embassy-tower-hamlets-councillors-055605106.html) Tower Hamlets’ Strategic Development Committee will either approve, refuse or defer the plans at a meeting later. A deferment would happen if committee members raised concerns and requested more detail beyond the scope of the planning application.

Newsline: Protests near Chinese diplomatic missions seen around the world

Antigovernment protests in China are stirring sympathetic activity near Chinese diplomatic missions and on university campuses around the world, adding an international dimension to a sensitive political moment. Demonstrators on Tuesday night packed the sidewalk across the street from China’s New York consulate in such numbers that they disrupted traffic and forced organizers to retreat to a nearby pier. Leading the crowd, a speaker said, “Release protesters…stand with people in China.” That was followed by someone shouting “Xi Jinping” and the crowd erupted with repeated calls of “Step down.” (https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-protests-mushroom-around-the-world-11669811448) The expressions of solidarity from New York to the streets of Istanbul are emanating from China’s vast diaspora, and specifically those frustrated with Xi Jinping‘s authoritarian leadership of the country, participants say. A spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded indirectly when asked about protests on Tuesday, saying the country enjoys rule of law.

Newsline: UK summons Chinese ambassador over BBC journalist arrest

China’s ambassador to the UK has been summoned to the Foreign Office after a BBC journalist was allegedly kicked and beaten by Chinese police while covering anti-lockdown protests. The department has called on Zheng Zeguang for a “full and thorough explanation” of the detention of Edward Lawrence. Chinese officials have claimed that Mr Lawrence “didn’t voluntarily present” his press credentials. (https://news.yahoo.com/uk-foreign-office-minister-summons-154117882.html) The broadcaster said that police claimed Mr Lawrence was arrested in case he caught Covid from the crowd.

Newsline: US embassy in China warns lockdowns may intensify amid protests

The U.S. embassy in China released a statement Monday morning calling on U.S. citizens in the country to “keep a 14-day supply of medications, bottled water, and food for yourself and any members of your household.” “The People’s Republic of China (PRC) authorities have expanded COVID-19 prevention restrictions and control measures as outbreaks occur. These measures may include residential quarantines, mass testing, closures, transportation disruptions, lockdowns, and possible family separation. Ambassador Burns and other Mission officials have regularly raised our concerns on many of these issues directly with senior PRC officials and will continue to do so,” the statement reads. (https://www.foxnews.com/world/warning-us-embassy-china-signals-lockdowns-are-likely-intensify-amid-protests) David Tafuri, a former State Department official and foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign, says the State Department is trying to get ahead of the situation and prevent citizens from being caught up in a tense situation inside China.

Newsline: Australian family says targeted with bomb threats amid fight with Chinese diplomat

Even if Drew Pavlou wins what he believes is a landmark case against a Chinese diplomat, the activist says it won’t stop the bomb threats. However, the human rights campaigner hopes a protection order against Xu Jie is successful, saying China’s ex-Brisbane consul-general started a brutal, systematic harassment campaign against him. “The Chinese Communist Party has been behind an extended campaign to brutally go against me and my family,” Pavlou said. “My younger brother has been targeted with bomb threats, my family have continued to be targeted with death threats, I have been assaulted multiple times on Australian streets.” (https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/pavlou-says-family-targeted-with-bomb-threats-amid-fight-with-chinese-diplomat-20221125-p5c1fh.html) Pavlou on Friday launched a Brisbane District Court appeal after his Peace and Good Behaviour Act application against Xu was dismissed in August 2020. The complaint two years ago followed a July 2019 protest at University of Queensland in which Pavlou was twice assaulted. Xu issued a press release after the confrontation, which Pavlou said incited violence against him. Pavlou was unsuccessful in court two years ago after a Brisbane magistrate ruled Xu had diplomatic immunity. However, he has launched the appeal after seeking legal advice from international experts even though Xu is no longer Brisbane consul-general or in Australia.

Newsline: China, Arab Nations Eye Intensified Diplomacy at Summit in Saudi Arabia Next Month

China and Arab nations will hold a summit in Saudi Arabia early next month, setting up the possibility that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the key energy partner for the first time in nearly seven years. Li Xuhang, China’s consul-general in Dubai, said the gathering would happen in early December, according to a statement posted on the consulate’s website. The statement didn’t provide any other details. (https://news.yahoo.com/china-arab-nations-hold-summit-084421260.html) The envoy told a newspaper in the United Arab Emirates that the summit would involve face-to-face exchanges between leaders from China and Arab nations, according to a separate Foreign Ministry statement. Xi is likely to use the visit to Saudi Arabia to shore up ties given his last visit was in January 2016. Saudi Arabia was China’s largest source of foreign oil ahead of Russia in October, according to customs data from the world’s No. 2 economy.

Newsline: UK police identify offences committed in Chinese consulate incident

British police said they had identified a number of offences committed during an incident at a Chinese consulate in northern England last month, in which a man protesting outside said he was dragged into the grounds and assaulted. Bob Chan, who is originally from Hong Kong, says he was with a group demonstrating against Chinese President Xi Jinping outside the consulate in Manchester, northern England, when masked men pulled him inside and kicked and punched him. Consul-General Zheng Xiyuan said his staff, including himself, had been defending themselves after protesters had stormed the grounds in an unprovoked attack. Greater Manchester Police said they had been gathering evidence from mobile phone footage and witnesses to establish the full circumstances of what had happened. There have been no arrests so far, but they had “identified a number of offences including assaults and public order offences”. “We’re continuing to gain a clearer understanding of the timeline of events that led to an initially peaceful protest escalating in the way it did, and this has seen us identify a number of offences and potential suspects and victims,” Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes said. (https://news.yahoo.com/uk-police-identify-offences-committed-172514130.html) Chan, aged in his 30s, said he suffered bruising to his eye, head, neck and all over his back. The incident sparked another diplomatic spat between Britain and China, whose relationship has soured in recent years.