Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for China

Newsline: China claims no ‘clue’ of sonic attack on U.S. consulate

Chinese officials say they’ve probed reports of an American government employee experiencing mysterious sensations from sound and pressure at a U.S. diplomatic facility in China but found nothing to back up the claim. “China has carried out an investigation seriously and given an initial feedback to the U.S.,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang. “We have found no reason or clue for what was reported by the U.S.” Mr. Kang made the comments at a press conference in Beijing after U.S. officials revealed that an employee at the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China, had experienced the abnormal sensations. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised eyebrows Wednesday, when he told lawmakers in Washington that the sensations reported were “very similar and entirely consistent” with symptoms felt by American diplomats sickened last year in Cuba by what many believe was a sonic or electromagnetic wave attack on the U.S. Embassy there. The incident in Havana has remained a mystery over the past year, with some analysts also speculating the diplomats may have fallen ill from exposure to waves emitting from a malfunctioned foreign listening or spying device.



Newsline: US diplomat in China shows symptoms of ‘mild’ brain injury

A US government employee in southern China has shown signs of a “mild traumatic brain injury” after reporting abnormal sounds and air pressure in a case that recalls the mystery illness that hit American diplomats serving in Cuba. In an emailed notice to American citizens in China on Wednesday, the State Department said it was not currently known what had caused the symptoms in the staff member, who is based in the US consulate in Guangzhou. “A US government employee in China recently reported subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure,” the notice said. “The US government is taking these reports seriously and has informed its official staff in China of this event.” Jinnie Lee, a spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Beijing, said that between late 2017 and April 2018, a US government employee assigned to Guangzhou reported a variety of physical symptoms. “The employee was sent to the US for further evaluation,” Lee said. “On May 18, 2018 the embassy learned that the clinical findings of this evaluation matched mild traumatic brain injury. “The US State Department is taking the incident very seriously and working to determine the cause and impact of the incident.


Newsline: Top Philippine diplomat in Hong Kong backs calls to raise minimum wage of city’s domestic helpers

The Philippines’ top diplomat in Hong Kong has called on the city’s government to raise the minimum monthly wage for domestic helpers amid rising costs of living, with workers asking for a pay rise of 25 per cent to HK$5,500 (US$700) to prevent an exodus to mainland China. Their demands were prompted by Manila’s labour minister Silvestre Bello telling Dubai newspaper Gulf News that Beijing wanted Filipino domestic helpers, cooks, carers, musicians and nurses to work in China, with helpers conceding they would jump ship to the mainland if wages were higher than the current HK$4,410 a month. Bello made the remarks after officials from China and the Philippines last month signed a memorandum of understanding on the employment of Filipinos to teach English in China. Philippine consul general in Hong Kong Antonio Morales said: “[The monthly minimum wage] has to be adjusted to reflect the rising costs of living, the higher inflation rate and the like.” He declined to state a specific figure, but added he hoped Hong Kong officials would come up with a “reasonable” level. About half of Hong Kong’s 370,000 foreign domestic helpers are Filipinos and the numbers are likely to rise as the city needs more carers for its ageing population.


Newsline: China, Dominican Republic to establish diplomatic ties

China and the Dominican Republic have signed an agreement to establish diplomatic ties, the Chinese government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, said at a news briefing on Tuesday. The Dominican Republic has been a diplomatic ally of Taiwan. China offered the Dominican Republic a $3.1 billion package of investments and loans to get them to sever ties with Taiwan, a Taiwan official said on Tuesday, after the Caribbean nation switched allegiance to China in a diplomatic blow to the self-ruled island. Taiwan, claimed by China as its own, has formal relations now with only 19 countries, many of them poor nations in Central America and the Pacific like Belize and Nauru. China says Taiwan is simply a wayward province with no right to state-to-state ties. China and Taiwan have tried to poach each other’s allies over the years, often dangling generous aid packages in front of developing nations, though Taipei struggles to compete with an increasingly powerful China. Panama ended its long-standing relationship with Taiwan last year in a major diplomatic victory for China. The Vatican is possibly next on the list, as the Holy See and China edge closer to an accord on the appointment of bishops in China.


Newsline: North Korea’s Kim Visits Chinese Embassy, Bus-Crash Victims

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited survivors of a deadly tour-bus crash, which killed dozens of Chinese tourists, and personally offered condolences to China’s ambassador in Pyongyang, state media said. Mr. Kim arrived at the Chinese Embassy at 6:30 a.m. Monday, the day after the crash, to “express his deep sympathy” and extend his condolences to Chinese President Xi Jinping, the official Korean Central News Agency said in a Tuesday report. Later Monday, Mr. Kim visited the hospital where survivors are being treated, KCNA said. The agency published photos showing Mr. Kim holding hands with patients. The tour bus fell from a bridge Sunday evening in North Hwanghae province, leaving 32 Chinese and four North Koreans dead and two Chinese severely injured, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.


Newsline: Britain blocks new Chinese embassy in London, sparking diplomatic row

UK is refusing to give China the all-clear for a new embassy in London in an extraordinary diplomatic row. Sources say the Government insists it will only be approved if the Chinese agree to a request to give up control of a road next to Britain’s embassy in Beijing. The Chinese have refused to follow normal practice and designate the road as British soil, which infuriated the Foreign Office. China plans to move its embassy from Marylebone to a building on the site of the old Royal Mint near the Tower of London. A real estate company is also looking at sites close to the new 12-storey US embassy in Vauxhall. Insiders in the Foreign Office last night said officials had spoken to the Chinese government about its plans to move to new premises several times and claimed the talks had been positive and constructive. A spokesman said that the ­Foreign Office “did not recognise” claims of a stand-off.


Newsline: Chinese top diplomat to visit Russia

Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi will be visiting Russia on March 27-28, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said at Monday’s briefing. “This trip shows that relations between China and Russia have reached a very high level and are of a special character. Meetings with Russian administration members, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, will be held during this visit,” the diplomat said. Chinese-Russian ties will see new favorable opportunities in the near future, she said.