Tag Archives: China

EU on Apple Daily’s Hong Kong operations

Brussels 23.06.2021 “The closure of Apple Daily’s Hong Kong (pictured) operations clearly shows how the National Security Law imposed by Beijing is being used to stifle freedom of the press and the free expression of opinions. Its closing seriously undermines media freedom and pluralism, which are essential for any open and free society. The erosion of press freedom is also counter to Hong Kong’s aspirations as an international business hub” reads the statement of Statement by the European External Action Service Spokesperson.

“The European Union recalls that these freedoms are enshrined in the Basic Law, and that China made international commitments under the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 to respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms, including freedom of the press. All rights enshrined in the Basic Law under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle should be fully protected and restored”.

Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy paper Apple Daily has announced its closure, in a serious blow to the freedom of press.

The publication’s offices were raided last week over allegations that several reports published recently had breached a controversial national security law.

Company-linked assets worth HK$18m ($2.3m; £1.64m) were later frozen. Police also detained its chief editor and five other executives. The tabloid has been critical of the Hong Kong and Chinese leadership.
Its founder Jimmy Lai is already in jail on a number of charges.

The paper’s management said that “in view of staff members’ safety”, it had decided “to cease operation immediately after midnight” – making Thursday’s publication the final printed edition.

NATO faces multifaceted threats

Brussels 14.06.2021 “…We face multifaceted threats, systemic competition from assertive and authoritarian powers, as well as growing security challenges to our countries and our citizens from all strategic directions” reads the Brussels Summit Communiqué Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels 14 June 2021.

“Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security; terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a persistent threat to us all. State and non-state actors challenge the rules-based international order and seek to undermine democracy across the globe. Instability beyond our borders is also contributing to irregular migration and human trafficking. China’s growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance”.

“We will engage China with a view to defending the security interests of the Alliance. We are increasingly confronted by cyber, hybrid, and other asymmetric threats, including disinformation campaigns, and by the malicious use of ever-more sophisticated emerging and disruptive technologies. Rapid advances in the space domain are affecting our security”.

“The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the erosion of the arms control architecture also undermine our collective security. Climate change is a threat multiplier that impacts Alliance security. The greatest responsibility of the Alliance is to protect and defend our territories and our populations against attack, and we will address all threats and challenges which affect Euro-Atlantic security…”

NATO-Russia: dual track approach

Brussels 14.06.2021 “…Today I really look forward to welcoming all the NATO Leaders to our summit. We meet at a pivotal moment for our Alliance. And today we will open a new chapter in our transatlantic relations.
The Leaders will discuss a wide range of issues, among them Russia” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said ahead of the Summit.

“Our relationship with Russia is at its lowest point since the end of the Cold War. This is due to Russia’s aggressive actions. I am confident that the NATO Leaders will confirm our dual track approach to Russia: strong defence combined with dialogue. I’m sure that the NATO Leaders will welcome the opportunity to consult with President Biden ahead of his meeting with President Putin”.

https://twitter.com/jensstoltenberg/status/1404346633249247235?s=20 .

“We will also address China. There are of course opportunities and we need to engage with China on issues like climate change, arms control.But China’s military build-up, growing influence and coercive behaviour also poses some challenges to our security. We need to address them together as an Alliance.

“On this background, NATO Leaders will today agree an ambitious forward-looking agenda, the NATO 2030 agenda.
This is about how to reinforce our collective defence, how to strengthen our resilience, and sharpen our technological edge. And for the first time in NATO’s history, also make climate and security an important task for our Alliance. To do all of this, we need to resource our higher level of ambition.Therefore we need to invest more. I welcome that we are on a good track. We now have seven consecutive years of increased defence spending across European Allies and Canada. And these Allies have added in total 260 billion extra US dollars for defence.

“I am also confident that NATO Leaders will agree to invest more together, to meet our higher level of ambition. This is a force-multiplier and it demonstrates the unity of our Alliance.
So all together I’m absolutely certain that the decisions we will make today, they will send a strong message of unity, of resolve and that we are making NATO stronger in an age of global competition”.

Huawei lanuches new smartphone

China’s Huawei Technologies Co. on Wednesday, June 2, unveiled its self-developed operating system for smartphones, in a bid to pave the way for separating its business from the United States and the dominance of Google LLC.

The Chinese tech giant’s Harmony OS will be loaded with its Mate X2 foldable smartphones, released in February, as the export-control measures imposed by the 45th U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration have been hurting its cooperate performance.

The focus on HarmonyOS working across devices is one way Huawei is trying to differentiate its operating system from Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.

“HarmonyOS is designed to provide the glue between a growing array of connected devices that Huawei is targeting,” Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, said.

“Huawei will be hoping that it can follow Apple’s lead, by having a single software platform that extends in all directions, providing a seamless experience to customers that buy into its ecosystem of products.”

JCPOA continues work in Vienna

Brusssels 02.06.2021 The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) resumes today Wednesday 2 June, in Vienna (pictured).

The Joint Commission is chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by the Deputy Secretary General/Political Director of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora. It is attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.

Participants continue their discussions in view of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and on how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA.

China monk on diplomatic mission

Brussels 17.05.2021 Rabban Bar Sauma left China in 1275, followed the Silk Road, and made his way to Baghdad, Constantinople, and France, meeting khans, kings, and a pope. The remarkable Bar Sauma was born in Zhongdu, China, in 1220. His ancestors were descendants of the Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group from Central Asia. Bar Sauma was brought up in the Nestorian faith, a Christian denomination that originated in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) when it broke away from the church in the fifth century. Nestorianism took root in Persia and then spread east to China.

The ilkhan elected Bar Sauma as head of a delegation to Europe to convince its leaders to join a military campaign against their common enemy. Then in his 60s, Bar Sauma began traveling west in 1287 on a new journey, with Constantinople as his first destination among many.

The Byzantine capital made a colossal impact on Bar Sauma. It was his first time in an entirely Christian city—and what a city it was—with its blend of Roman and Byzantine splendor. The Nestorian pilgrim was dazzled by the magnificent sight of Hagia Sophia, built seven centuries earlier by Emperor Justinian I.

From Constantinople he traveled to Italy in June 1287. His first stop was Rome, where he hoped to convince the pope to declare a new crusade to take the Holy Land from the Mamluks. Pope Honorius IV, however, had just died and his successor had not yet been chosen. Bar Sauma’s message would have to wait, so he made the most of his time waiting by visiting Rome’s basilicas and the relics of the holy figures he had so venerated in far-off China. After visiting the tomb of St. Paul and the Church of St. Peter in Chains, he set off to meet the French king Philip the Fair.

NATO Summit in June

Brussels 25.04.2021 The U.S. President Joe Biden will participate in the NATO Summit on June 14 in Brussels, Belgium. Leaders from all 30 Allied nations will meet to discuss how to orient the Alliance to future threats and ensure effective burden sharing. #WeAreNATO

“This is a unique opportunity to reinforce NATO as the enduring embodiment of the bond between Europe and North America. We will take decisions on our substantive and forward-looking NATO 2030 agenda to deal with the challenges of today and tomorrow: Russia’s aggressive actions, the threat of terrorism, cyber attacks, emerging and disruptive technologies, the security impact of climate change, and the rise of China”.

“Belgium was a founding member of NATO in 1949, and has hosted our headquarters for more than fifty years.
I look forward to a successful Summit here in June” said Jens Stoltenberg, the Alliance Secretary General.

EU actions for Human Rights

Brussels 22.03.2021 The EU Foreign Ministers Council today decided to impose restrictive measures on eleven individuals and four entities responsible for serious human rights violations and abuses in various countries around the world. Together with the listing of four Russian individuals earlier this month, these 15 designations are part of the first broader package of listings under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime. The sanctions signal the EU’s strong determination to stand up for human rights and to take tangible action against those responsible for violations and abuses. EU actions for Human Rights

The violations targeted today include the large-scale arbitrary detentions of, in particular, Uyghurs in Xinjiang in China, repression in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Libya, torture and repression against LGBTI persons and political opponents in Chechnya in Russia, and torture, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and killings in South Sudan and Eritrea.

Under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime established on 7 December 2020, the listed individuals and entities are subject to an asset freeze in the EU. In addition, listed individuals are subject to a travel ban to the EU. Moreover, persons and entities in the EU are prohibited from making funds available, either directly or indirectly, to those listed.

The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons and entities concerned, have been published in the Official Journal.

Michel regrets EU consensus method

In his speech “European strategic autonomy is the goal of our generation” at the Bruegel think tank president of the European Council Charles Michel addressed problems of global instability, and pointed at the need to establish the EU autonomy. He also has drawn attention to a number of problems in the EU foreign policy, namely the challenges imposed by China and Russia, “unpredictability” of Mediterranean neighbourhood, and post-Brexit trade negotiations. The president also regretted the method of unanimity in the EU foreign policy decision-making process, which slows it down, and “even some times prevents the decisions”.
Michel has underlined the the EU defence should develop in strong partnership with NATO, and “deployed within” North Atlantic Alliance.

“…Because the globalised world has changed a lot since the end of the Cold War. And because an arc of instability has developed around us.

“In the East, the natural and harmless extension of the European democratic space was brutally stopped by Russia in Ukraine. Russia saw a major geopolitical danger there. This cost Ukraine part of its territory, and a war in the East which permanently destabilises the country. Although the context is different, the events in Belarus once again highlight the challenge at Europe’s eastern borders.

“In the Eastern Mediterranean, we face tensions and unpredictability. Libya and Syria are hotbeds of insecurity and instability. There is pressure on the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus. Our relationship with Turkey is under strain. This is why the next European summit will be devoted to the adoption of a European strategic position in connection with this region. I proposed the organisation of a multilateral conference on the Eastern Mediterranean, where maritime de-limitations, energy, security, migration, etc. would be discussed.

“In the South: Africa. And I feel, at the level of Europe and its leaders, how much the outlook on Africa is changing. Its energy, its vitality, open the way to an unprecedented alliance. It only depends on us, African and European leaders.

“In the West, Brexit. In the aftermath of the referendum, the result shook up the European Union. This choice of national sovereignty was felt as a failure of European construction.

“Today what is it? It is the United Kingdom that faces our quiet strength. The truth is, the British face a dilemma. What model of society do they want? Do they prefer to maintain high quality standards (health, food, environmental, etc.)? Or, on the contrary, do they want lower standards, subject their breeders and their businesses to unfair and unjust competition from other regions of the world? It is the answer to this question that will determine the level of access to our internal market”

President Michel has also regarded the principle of unanimity in the EU foreign policy, “regularly debated”:

“…Unanimity is required in matters of foreign policy. This question of unanimity is, as we know, regularly debated. And I have a qualified opinion in this regard. Of course, the unanimity requirement slows down and sometimes even prevents the decision. But this requirement leads to constant efforts to weld the Member States together. And this European unity is also our strength. Unanimity promotes the lasting adhesion of the 27 countries to the strategy deliberated together. So I ask myself: isn’t renouncing unanimity a false good idea? Are there not other more relevant reforms to act more quickly at the international level, without losing the added value of our unanimity?

“My modest experience is as follows. Very often, in recent months, I have observed that apparently important differences between the Member States were quickly blurred thanks to the substantive debate. So it was with China. The political preparations allowed us in a few months to define a common position which is now shared by all. The same will be true for the eastern Mediterranean and even Belarus. I am optimistic that there too we will express common positions which will draw their strength from our unity. The major decisions on the budget and the stimulus fund further illustrate this certainty: political confrontation, the exchange of arguments on the merits, are an essential step in the process of democratic deliberation. And they found the legitimacy of the decision.

“…Defense is not a European competence like any other. And I know the different national sensibilities. In my eyes, deepening the common defence is a necessity and is more common sense than an ideological obsession. This project must be deployed within NATO. This is the meaning of the strategic partnership between the EU and NATO. The permanent structured cooperation and the European Defense Fund, which we have just endowed with 7 billion euro, are fully in line with this ambition. And I greet Jean-Claude Juncker and Federica Mogherini, whose strategic impetus in this area has not yet been fully appreciated”.

Michel postpones #EUCO Summit

On 1 and 2 October, the EU leaders will meet in Brussels to discuss the Single market, industrial policy and digital transformation, as well as external relations, in particular relations with Turkey and with China. The Summit, initially planned for 24 and 25 September, has been postponed as President Michel is in quarantine.

In July, the European Council agreed an unprecedented recovery package to counter the effects of COVID-19 on the economies and societies of the EU member states. The two pillars of such a recovery, the green transition and the digital transformation, coupled with a strong single market, will foster new forms of growth and strengthen the EU’s resilience.

“This agreement was a major step to our vital objective: European strategic autonomy. (…) The strategic independence of Europe is our new common project for this century. It’s in all our common interest” said Charles Michel, President of the European Council.
The European Council will look at ways of deepening and strengthening the single market, developing a more ambitious industrial policy, and pressing ahead with the digital transformation. EU leaders will focus on:
going back to a fully functioning single market as soon as possible; making the EU’s industries more competitive globally and increasing their autonomy; accelerating the digital transition.

The European Council will hold a strategic discussion on Turkey. During the EU leaders’ video conference of 19 August 2020, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the relations with Turkey were raised by some member states. The leaders expressed their concern about the growing tensions and stressed the urgent need to de-escalate. The members of the European Council expressed their full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus and recalled and reaffirmed previous conclusions on the illegal drilling activities.

“We agreed to come back to these issues during our meeting in September. All options will be on the table”, president Michel said.
Following the EU-China summit on 22 June 2020 and the meeting with President Xi on 14 September 2020, both by video conference, the European Council will discuss EU-China relations.
In the light of events, the European Council may address other specific foreign policy issues.

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