abuse

Outging US ambassador says world must end Taiwan’s exclusion

Outging US ambassador says world must end Taiwan’s exclusion

Associated Press
In this image made from a video screen shows and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft meeting virtually with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (unseen) on Wednesday night, Jan. 13, 2021. Craft’s trip to Taiwan was canceled but Craft told Tsai: “The United States will always stand with Taiwan.” (The United States Mission to the United Nations via AP)

 EDITH M. LEDERER  

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — In a final swipe at China, the Trump administration’s outgoing U.N. ambassador tweeted that it’s time for the world to oppose China’s efforts to exclude and isolate Taiwan, drawing sharp criticism from Beijing.

To make the point even more graphic, Ambassador Kelly Craft accompanied the tweet with a photo of herself in the U.N. General Assembly Hall where the island is banned. And she carried a handbag with a stuffed Taiwan bear sticking out of the top, a gift from Taiwan’s representative in New York, Ambassador James Lee.

Taiwan left the United Nations in 1971 when China joined. Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province and has been using its diplomatic clout to stop its 23 million people from joining any organizations that require statehood for membership including the U.N. World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

American relations with Taiwan warmed under president Donald Trump, largely due to strong bipartisan support in Congress, but also because his administration was willing to defy Beijing’s threats and promote Taiwan as an alternative to Chinese Communist Party authoritarianism.

Craft met in September with Taiwan’s New York representative and had been scheduled to visit Taipei last week, but her trip was canceled after then secretary of state Mike Pompeo banned all travel.

Undeterred, she held a virtual meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on the evening of Jan. 13, telling her: “The United States will always stand with Taiwan.”

Earlier that day, she went into the General Assembly Hall, stood at the speaker’s podium, and recorded a virtual address to Model U.N. students in Taiwan.

Craft followed up those events with a statement Tuesday — her last full day as ambassador — stressing that the United States “is determined to end” Taiwan’s exclusion and isolation, and predicting this will continue with the administration of newly inaugurated President Joe Biden.

“The U.S. position on this matter enjoys universal bipartisan support,” she said, “and so, even as the United States is preparing for a transition, I can speak with great confidence that the U.S.-Taiwan relationship will continue to grow and strengthen.”

She called Taiwan “a force for good on the global stage — a vibrant democracy, a generous humanitarian actor, a responsible actor in the global health community, and a vigorous promoter and defender of human rights.”

In a final salvo during Trump’s final hours in office on Wednesday, Craft tweeted her appeal for an end to Taiwan’s isolation and exclusion, saying: “All @UN member states should recognize the benefits of Taiwan’s meaningful participation in int’l organizations & the damage done by its continued exclusion.”

The spokesperson for China’s U.N. Mission, referring to Craft’s photo in the General Assembly Hall, tweeted back: “Without prior notice to the UN, you sneaked into the GA Hall to record the video. You have not only violated the guidelines for the use of UN premises but also broken the rules for prevention of COVID-19. You’re spreading virus literally. Time to stop!”

A spokesman for Craft responded Thursday saying: “Ambassador Craft was proud to speak with the youth of Taiwan from the floor of the U.N. General Assembly, to underscore the outrageous fact that Taiwan’s voice remains unwelcome in that Hall.”

In her speech to Taiwan’s Model UN, Craft told the students: “Stay firm, say the words of democracy even in the wake of this moment. Because one day, you, too, will be standing here.”

To reinforce her personal commitment, she ended her statement on Tuesday saying: “As my posting at the U.N. comes to a close, my mission will not be complete until the people of Taiwan have a voice.”

Top Republicans ask Biden for tougher response to China sanctions on Trump officials

Top Republicans ask Biden for tougher response to China sanctions on Trump officials

Reuters
  • FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo testifies before Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • FILE PHOTO: House Hearing on Firing of Inspector General in Washington

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Top Republicans ask Biden for tougher response to China sanctions on Trump officials

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo testifies before Senate Foreign Relations Committee David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina  

By David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration faced pressure from Republican lawmakers on its second day in office for a more forceful response to Beijing’s announcement of sanctions against the architects of former President Donald Trump’s tough China policy.

As Democrat Joe Biden was sworn in as president on Wednesday, China announced sanctions against outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and 27 other Trump officials in a striking repudiation of its relationship with the previous U.S. administration.

The Biden administration, which is seeking Republican support for a policy to “out-compete” China, responded by calling the move “unproductive and cynical” and urged Americans from both parties to condemn it. China, by making the announcement on Inauguration Day, appeared to be attempting to play into U.S. divisions, it said.

Jim Risch, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, said on Twitter that Beijing was “already testing the Biden Admin’s resolve to continue a tougher, competitive approach towards #China.”

“Together, Republicans & Democrats must show Beijing we will not be deterred from defending U.S. interests.”

Michael McCaul, the leading Republican on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said the sanctions were “a brazen and baseless attempt to silence and intimidate” officials who had exposed abuses.

“The Biden administration and any country that values democratic principles must respond immediately and forcefully to demonstrate that coercion will not be tolerated,” he said.

Beijing announced its sanctions after Pompeo, who unleashed a barrage of measures against China in his final weeks in office, declared on Tuesday that China had committed “genocide and crimes against humanity” against Uighur Muslims.

Just before it did so, Beijing also said it wanted to cooperate with the Biden administration, even after Biden’s choice to succeed Pompeo, Antony Blinken, said he agreed with his assessment.

A Republican House Foreign Affairs Committee staffer said responses could include counter-sanctions or tightening of existing measures, adding: “This latest move was a serious escalation.”

The Biden administration, which is still setting up its full Asia policy and other government teams, did not immediately reply when asked if it planned a response.

Beijing’s sanctions ban the 28 officials and immediate family members from entering China and they and any companies or organizations associated with them from having dealings there.

China has repeatedly rejected accusations of abuse in Xinjiang, where a United Nations panel has said at least one million Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained in camps.

Blinken told his Senate confirmation hearing China posed the most significant challenge to the United States of any nation, and that he believed there was a very strong foundation to build a bipartisan policy to stand up to Beijing.

Some Republicans and others are concerned Biden may soften Trump’s hardline approach to secure cooperation on other goals, including combating climate change and North Korea.

Some in the U.S. business community saw China’s move as a shot across the bow, not only at Biden, but potentially at companies, banks, consulting firms, think tanks, and universities that have dealings with former U.S. officials.

“This team doesn’t have the luxury of six months to study the issue,” one private-sector China policy analyst said of the Biden administration. “It requires a near term response that goes beyond signaling.”

The source spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of backlash from China.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina; editing by Grant McCool)