Archive for ‘foreign minister’

22/06/2019

Southeast Asian leaders open summit in Bangkok

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Southeast Asian leaders opened a two-day summit in Bangkok on Saturday, though it was unclear what progress their 10-country group could make on disputes in the South China Sea and the plight of ethnic Rohingya fleeing Myanmar.

Formed more than half a century ago, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has historically struggled with challenges facing the region because it works only by consensus and is reluctant to become involved in any matter regarded as internal to a member state.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was making his debut as a civilian leader representing current chair Thailand, after a general election in March that opposition parties say was designed to ensure his victory five years after the former army chief seized power in a 2014 coup.

Officials are expected to discuss a Code of Conduct (COC) for negotiations over the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest waterways and a potential flashpoint, as it is claimed by several ASEAN members as well as China.

However, it was unlikely much progress would be made, though member nations might discuss the June 9 collision of a Philippine boat and a Chinese fishing vessel.

“It is encouraging to see that the ASEAN-China talks on the COC have continued,” said Marty Natalegawa, former foreign minister of Indonesia.

“However, there is real risk that developments on the ground – or more precisely at sea – are far outpacing the COC’s progress thereby possibly rendering it irrelevant.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted China’s proposal to jointly investigate allegations that a Chinese fishing vessel abandoned 22 Filipinos after it sank their boat in the South China Sea, his spokesman said on Saturday.

Rights groups have also called on ASEAN leaders to rethink support for plans to repatriate Rohingya Muslims who have fled member state Myanmar, where activists say returnees could face discrimination and persecution.

More than 700,000 Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh in 2017, according to U.N. agencies, after a crackdown by Myanmar’s military sparked by Rohingya insurgent attacks on the security forces.

However, it is unlikely that there will be any criticism of Myanmar at the summit over the Rohingya, said Prapat Thepchatree, a political science professor at Thailand’s Thammasat University said.

“This issue has been a very sensitive one for ASEAN,” he said.

Host country Thailand deployed about 10,000 security forces around Bangkok for the summit, mindful of a decade ago when Thailand last hosted an ASEAN summit and dozens of protesters loyal to military-ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra forced their way into the meeting venue.

But on Saturday morning, only a small group of people had planned to stage a protest to call Prayuth’s election the product of a rigged system.

The group, called Citizens Wanting Elections, was stopped by police before it could reach a meeting point near the summit venue. The group later released a statement welcoming visiting leaders but criticising Prayuth.

“The individual who serves as President of ASEAN, who welcomes everyone today, did not come from a clean and fair election,” the letter said.

Source: Reuters

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19/06/2019

China vows unwavering determination to maintain Iranian nuclear deal: FM

BEIJING, June 18 (Xinhua) — China on Tuesday said its determination to maintain the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is unwavering and is willing to continue to make efforts for the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks when meeting the press after his meeting with Syrian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Walid Mualem.

Calling on all parties to jointly promote the alleviation of Iranian nuclear issue and the situation in the Gulf region, instead of letting it get worse, even slipping into conflicts, Wang urged all parties to firmly maintain the deal.

Wang said ensuring the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA was not only a decision made by the UN Security Council but also the only effective way to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, which is related to the common interests of the international community.

He urged all parties to maintain rationality and restraint, rather than to “open Pandora’s box”, noting that the United States should change its “maximum pressure” policy.

“There is as no basis for unilateralism in international law,” said Wang, adding that unilateralism will create greater crises instead of solving problems.

Noting the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that Iran has fulfilled its obligations under the JCPOA for 15 consecutive times, Wang said China hoped that Iran could make careful decisions and would not abandon the JCPOA easily.

He also urged other parties to respect the reasonable demands of the Iranian side and take active measures to maintain the balance of rights and obligations under the JCPOA.

Wang noted that China has recently conducted close coordination and cooperation with related parties, resulting in important progress in the reconstruction of the Arak heavy water reactor facility.

“The Chinese side is willing to continue making efforts for the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA. At the same time, we will firmly safeguard our own legitimate rights and interests,” Wang said.

Source: Xinhua

03/06/2019

Chinese vice president visits Germany, vows closer cooperation

GERMANY-CHINA-WANG QISHAN-VISIT

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan meets with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin, Germany, May, 31, 2019. Wang Qishan paid a visit to Germany from Thursday to Sunday at the invitation of the German Federal Government. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)

BERLIN, June 2 (Xinhua) — Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan paid a visit to Germany from Thursday to Sunday at the invitation of the German Federal Government.

During his visit in Berlin, Wang met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas separately.

When meeting with Steinmeier, Wang said that China and Germany were both major world economies and major countries with great influence. The relations between the two countries have gone beyond bilateral scope and bear global significance.

Wang said in recent years the high-level contacts were frequent, and the cooperation in all fields has been constantly deepened, adding he is willing to push for new development of the all-around strategic partnership through his visit.

Noting the ties between China and Germany is currently facing a new situation, Wang called on the two countries to set a model of win-win cooperation for the world through deepening collaboration, to bring stability to the world through guiding the China-EU cooperation, and to strength the power to safeguard multilateralism through boosting global governance.

For his part, German President Steinmeier said that the current international landscape is complicated and turbulent, and multilateralism is under threat.

He noted that Germany highly values the ties with China, adding Germany is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China at all levels, and to continue the pragmatic cooperations in Industry 4.0 and in other fields.

Germany and China, and Europe and China, should join hands to maintain the world peace and stability, free trade, and existing international orders, Steinmeier added.

When meeting with Merkel, Wang said China sticks to peaceful development, and will through steadily deepening reform and opening up, solve the existing problem of imbalance and insufficient development to meet people’s desire for a better life and to fulfill the promises of the party and the government to the people.

Wang said China cannot develop itself in isolation from the world, nor can the world develop without the 1.4 billion Chinese people, and China advocates countries to together build a community of shared future for humankind.

Facing the profound and complex changes in the international situation, China always insists on doing its own share firstly, staying calm and clear-headed, showing composure, shouldering responsibility and reacting rationally, he noted.

Wang called on China and Germany, as all-around strategic partners, to strengthen cooperation in building a more fair and reasonable global governance system, and to jointly face the uncertainties.

The Chinese vice president also said that China has always viewed Europe from a strategic height and with a long-term vision, and firmly supported the European integration. Wang added that China is a trustworthy partner for Europe to have dialogue on an equal footing.

Chancellor Merkel said Germany appreciates China’s great achievements in economic development and believes that China can definitely achieve the ambitious goals of eradicating poverty and finishing building a moderately prosperous society on schedule.

Facing the current complex and volatile international environment in which various new problems emerge, Merkel said, Germany is always committed to safeguarding the principle of multilateralism and the existing international order.

She noted that Germany advocates to strengthen international coordination and collaboration through dialogue, disagrees with the action of exerting threat and pressure to solve problems.

She believed that Germany and China, as well as Europe and China, share broad consensus on a wide range of issues, expressing Germany’s willingness to strengthen communication, exchanges and cooperation with China, and to improve global governance system jointly with China.

When meeting with Heiko Maas, Wang said China and Germany share common interests in many fields such as deepening pragmatic cooperation, safeguarding multilateralism and free trade, improving global governance and promoting world peace.

Looking to the next stage of the bilateral relations, Wang advocates that both sides should set the right direction for the Sino-German, Sino-European win-win cooperation, encourage the enhanced exchanges in ideology, talents as well as science and technology, cement the friendship between the two peoples, and to inject more positive energy into the world.

Echoing Wang’s comments, Maas said Germany is willing to strengthen strategic communication and cooperation on multilateral issues with China, as well as to jointly tackle global challenges, safeguard multilateralism and international order, promote the liberalization of international trade.

During his visit to Germany, Wang also met with mayor of Hamburg Peter Tschentscher and Bavarian governor Markus Soeder and visited the port of Hamburg.

Before his tour to Germany, the Chinese Vice president also visited Pakistan and the Netherlands.

Source: Xinhua

18/05/2019

China hopes Iran nuclear deal “fully implemented”: FM

CHINA-BEIJING-WANG YI-IRAN-MEETING (CN)

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) meets with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Beijing, capital of China, May 17, 2019. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

BEIJING, May 17 (Xinhua) — China hopes to work with the Iranian side to eliminate complicated disturbing factors and make efforts for the full implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday.

Wang made the remarks when meeting with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“China firmly opposes unilateral sanctions and the so-called ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ imposed by the United States on Iran,” Wang said, pledging to maintain the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, and safeguard the authority of the United Nations and basic norms governing international relations.

China welcomes Iran to actively take part in the joint building of the Belt and Road and hopes to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, Wang said.

Zarif praised China for its important role in defending the Iran nuclear deal and vowed to strengthen bilateral and multilateral coordination so as to safeguard multilateralism and common interests of the two countries.

Source: Xinhua

01/05/2019

China sentences second Canadian to death

The police officer shows the seized crystal meth on May 18, 2016 in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China.Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption The court said the Canadian was the leader of a drug production and trafficking ring (file pic)

A court in China has sentenced a Canadian citizen to death for producing and trafficking methamphetamine.

Fan Wei is the second Canadian to be sentenced to death this year. Ten others, including five foreigners, were also sentenced on Tuesday.

Relations between Canada and China have been tense since the December arrest of a Huawei executive in Vancouver.

Canada has accused Beijing of arbitrarily applying the death penalty, and have requested clemency for Mr Fan.

In January, another Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, had a 15-year jail term increased to a death sentence – prompting condemnation from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Beijing rejected his comments, saying that Canada was practising “double standards”.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told journalists that Canada is “very concerned” by this latest death sentence.

“Canada stands firmly opposed to the death penalty everywhere around the world,” she said.

“We think that this is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which we think should not be used in any country. We are obviously particularly concerned when it is applied to Canadians.”

Global Affairs Canada said in a statement that the country “has raised our firm opposition to the death penalty with China, and will continue to do so”.

The diplomatic agency said representatives attended the 30 April verdict and sentencing trial for Mr Fan, and have called on China to grant clemency to him.

The latest case is likely to further inflame the months-long diplomatic row which started when Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested in Vancouver on the request of US authorities.

Two other Canadian citizens, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, are also being held by China and face accusations of harming national security.

The Jiangmen Intermediate People’s Court in southern Guangdong province said that Fan Wei was the leader of the drugs ring. Another suspect, Wu Ziping, whose nationality was not made clear, was also given a death sentence.

Nine others, including an American and four Mexicans, were given jail terms.

All were detained in 2012 and the trial took place in 2013.

Drug-dealing is punishable by death in China, and at least a dozen foreigners have been executed for drug-related offences. Many more are on death row.

However, the execution of Westerners is less common. One of the most high-profile cases involved British man Akmal Shaikh, who was executed in 2009 despite claims he was mentally ill and an appeal for clemency from the UK prime minister.

Source: The BBC

27/04/2019

Cherish the love: China and France should avoid causing unnecessary upset, Beijing says

  • Foreign Minister Wang Yi tells French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian the two sides should ensure ties ‘continue to develop in a healthy way’
  • Meeting comes after Paris angers Beijing by sending a warship through the sensitive Taiwan Strait
Paris upset Beijing earlier this month by sending its frigate Vendémiaire through the Taiwan Strait. Photo: Reuters
Paris upset Beijing earlier this month by sending its frigate Vendémiaire through the Taiwan Strait. Photo: Reuters
France and China should value their strong relationship and not take actions that disrupt it, China’s foreign minister told his French counterpart on Thursday, just days after 
Beijing expressed its upset

at Paris for sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait earlier this month.

Speaking at a meeting on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Wang Yi told Jean-Yves Le Drian that the two nations “should cherish their hard-won and good relations”.
“[We should] avoid unnecessary disruptions and ensure that bilateral relations continue to develop in a healthy and progressive way,” he was quoted as saying in a statement issued on Friday by the Chinese foreign ministry.

Le Drian responded by saying France was willing to cooperate with China to “maintain the growth momentum of bilateral relations”, according to the statement.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that Paris was willing to cooperate with Beijing. Photo: Xinhua
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that Paris was willing to cooperate with Beijing. Photo: Xinhua
The

French frigate Vendémiaire

passed through the Taiwan Strait on April 6. It had been expected to take part in a naval parade on Tuesday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of China’s navy, but Beijing withdrew the invitation in response to the action.

The defence ministry in Paris said this week it had been “in close contact with the Chinese authorities” about the incident.
EU’s connectivity plan ‘more sustainable’ than belt and road

A spokesman for the European Union said the trading bloc was committed to a rules-based maritime order based on international law, including freedom of navigation, and that it was in regular contact with the member states.

Chinese academics said that after the transit by the French warship it was likely that more Western countries would make their presence known in the region and that Beijing should remain vigilant.

“France wants to show that as a great power it has a broader concern in Asia-Pacific beyond trade and other ‘soft’ fields,” said Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing.

“And it will exert its right to free navigation in any international waters regardless of China’s position or sensitivities.”

The Taiwan Strait is about 160km (100 miles) wide and divides mainland China from Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a breakaway province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. The US, meanwhile, is bound by law to help the self-ruled defend itself and frequently sends warships through the strait in a show of support.

Shi said that US President Donald Trump’s Indo-Pacific strategy, which regards China as a “strategic competitor”, might draw “opportunistic associates” – like France and Britain – into the region.

“Some other states could be encouraged by the French action to do the same,” he said. “But [they] may also be deterred by China’s probable military and diplomatic responses, which would be determined on a case-by-case basis.”

Putin gets behind Xi’s belt and road plan in face of US hostility

Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Nanjing University, said France’s conduct was intended to show the “shared concern of Western allies” regarding the security aspect of cross-strait relations.

“China must be vigilant to the new tendency [for nations] to internationalise the Taiwan Strait issue,” he said, though added that the transit of the French warship was “more of a symbolic gesture than actual action”.

Philippe Le Corre, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington and former special assistant for international affairs to the French defence minister, said the Taiwan Strait did not belong to any one nation and, therefore, ships were within their rights to sail through it without prior authorisation.

“From Paris’s point of view, like the rest of the EU, the principles of freedom of navigation are critical to the world economy and trade, therefore there is no reason why European navies or even commercial ships should not be allowed to cross the Taiwan Strait,” he said.

“This is EU policy, not just France or the UK. It has nothing to do with the US, it is international law.”

Source: SCMP

25/04/2019

Belt and Road: China showcases initiative to world leaders

Aerial view of flower beds reading 'Chinese Dream' at Zhouji Green Expo Garden to welcome the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on April 24, 2019 in Nantong, Jiangsu Province of China.Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Flower beds reading ‘Chinese Dream’ welcome delegates to the Belt and Road forum in Beijing

World leaders are gathering in Beijing from Thursday for a summit on China’s Belt and Road initiative amid growing criticism of the project.

The sweeping infrastructure project aims to expand global trade links.

The initiative has funded trains, roads, and ports in many countries, but has left some saddled with debt.

Some see it as a bold bid for geopolitical influence, with the US particularly critical of China’s so-called “debt diplomacy”.

Chinese officials have tried to address concerns surrounding President Xi Jinping’s project, which is expected to involve more than $1 trillion (£774.9bn) in investments.

At the first day of the forum in Beijing, Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun said China aims to make the Belt and Road initiative sustainable and to prevent debt risks.

Last year, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a speech Belt and Road was not a “geostrategic concept” but was part of efforts to build “a community with a shared future for mankind together with countries around the globe.”

Leaders from 37 countries and dozens of officials are due to attend the three-day summit, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Italy recently became the first developed economy to sign up to China’s Belt and Road programme, raising concerns among its allies.

Western governments, and particularly the US, are increasingly wary of China’s growing influence.

The US, which has fought a trade war with China over the past year, has been particularly critical of the project.

Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech last year China was using “debt diplomacy” to expand its influence around the world.

Debt trap?

Other countries that are set to benefit from the project also seem to be growing more cautious.

Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan have all expressed concerns about the programme. Recipient countries worry about debt accumulation and increased Chinese influence.

Sri Lanka has been particularly affected – it had to hand over control over of a port to China in 2017 to help repay foreign loans.

Tom Rafferty, China economist at The Economist Intelligence Unit, said China is using this week’s summit to “reposition and, it hopes, revive the initiative after it lost its way in 2018 amid project delays and a slowdown in associated lending.”

Mr Rafferty said the Chinese government “wants to convince the international community that the Belt and Road Initiative is inclusive and policy concessions in areas such as debt sustainability” are likely.

Source: The BBC

20/04/2019

Indian foreign secretary heads to China for talks amid tense relations

  • Vijay Keshav Gokhale is expected to meet Chinese deputy foreign minister Kong Xuanyou and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during two-day visit
  • Beijing’s refusal to sanction a Pakistani militant leader and its belt and road push in the disputed Kashmir region have strained ties
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale will visit China as part of “regular exchanges” between the two countries. Photo: AFP
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale will visit China as part of “regular exchanges” between the two countries. Photo: AFP
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale will travel to Beijing on Sunday amid tensions between India and China over Beijing’s refusal to sanction a Pakistani militant leader and its infrastructure push in the disputed Kashmir region.
Gokhale’s two-day visit is part of “regular exchanges” between the two nations, the Indian embassy in Beijing said on Saturday.
During his stay, Gokhale is expected to meet Chinese deputy foreign minister Kong Xuanyou and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

He will return to India on Monday, three days before the second Belt and Road Forum begins in the Chinese capital. Forty foreign leaders will attend the summit on Beijing’s global trade and infrastructure scheme, the “Belt and Road Initiative”, but India is not taking part.

Wang on Friday called on India, and other countries sceptical of the initiative, to join up, dismissing claims that it is a geopolitical tool. He also said China was ready to hold a leaders’ summit with India like the informal meeting held between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Wuhan, Hubei province last year.

A summit between Xi Jinping (left) and Narendra Modi in Wuhan last year was seen as a breakthrough in China-India relations after the Doklam border dispute. Photo: AFP
A summit between Xi Jinping (left) and Narendra Modi in Wuhan last year was seen as a breakthrough in China-India relations after the Doklam border dispute. Photo: AFP

Gokhale visited Beijing in February last year, and the Wuhan summit happened two months later. That meeting was seen as a breakthrough in the

China-India relationship

after a 73-day military stand-off over the Doklam plateau.

But the progress was overshadowed in February after a terror strike on Indian security forces in the Jammu and Kashmir province, which killed 40 Indian soldiers. The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed group claimed responsibility for the attack. India has long wanted to designate its leader, Masood Azhar, as a terrorist under international law, but China has opposed the move.

During a visit to Pakistan in March, Kong said Beijing and Islamabad were all-weather strategic partners and would support each other on issues to do with their core interests.

What ‘Wuhan spirit’? Kashmir suicide attack reopens Modi’s China wound

Wang Dehua, head of the Institute for South and Central Asia Studies at the Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies, said China and India were looking to prevent their bilateral relations from deteriorating further.

“Both nations will elaborate on their stance on this matter, and China will probably deliver a message that the China-India relationship should not be affected by the dispute over Masood Azhar,” he said. “The positive sentiment out of Wuhan has been affected, and the two sides are seeking ways to continue the spirit of that informal summit.”

Du Youkang, director of Fudan University’s Pakistan Study Centre in Shanghai, said preparations for another informal summit of the nations’ leaders would only begin after India’s general election was over. Polling is being held in seven phases ending on May 19.

Gokhale’s trip would mainly be a chance to see how the two nations can push forward bilateral ties amid their disputes, Du said.

In addition to Azhar, India is also dismayed that some of China’s belt and road projects pass through the Pakistan-administered section of the disputed Kashmir region.

But Wang told reporters on Friday that the initiative did not target any third country, and that relations between China and India had improved after the Wuhan summit.

Source: SCMP

07/04/2019

Greece says EU’s China concerns must not harm its economic interests

  • Deputy prime minister Yannis Dragasakis hopes ‘logic will prevail’ ahead of EU-China summit
  • Affirms Greek support for Beijing’s belt and road plan for global trade
Greece’s deputy prime minister Yannis Dragasakis says the European Union’s suspicion about China is in danger of becoming a “self-fulfilling prophecy”. Photo: Alamy
Greece’s deputy prime minister Yannis Dragasakis says the European Union’s suspicion about China is in danger of becoming a “self-fulfilling prophecy”. Photo: Alamy
The deputy prime minister of Greece has warned that European Union suspicion of China is in danger of becoming a “self-fulfilling prophecy” while reaffirming his country’s support for Beijing’s controversial “Belt and Road Initiative”.
In an exclusive interview with theSouth China Morning Post in Athens on Monday, Yannis Dragasakis said he hoped logic would prevail in the EU’s relationship with the world’s second-largest economy.
“We would like to see the EU having good relations with China,” he said.
“Seriously, we should start [the discussion about China] from the opposite end, which is, what are the needs and problems that we can work on with China?”
Dragasakis was speaking ahead of the annual summit between the EU and China in Brussels on Wednesday, which this year will take place against a backdrop of suspicion among some EU countries over Beijing’s political and commercial ambitions in the region.
Europe has been divided over whether to work with China’s enormous belt and road plan, which aims to link China by sea and land with southeast and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, through an infrastructure network along the lines of the old Silk Road.
Italy becomes first G7 nation to sign up for China’s belt and road plan

Washington has criticised the scheme as a “vanity project”, and the EU looks set to refer to China as a “strategic rival”, with some European leaders fearing Beijing’s diplomatic manoeuvres could derail unity among member states.

Last month Italy, which is grappling with its third recession in a decade, became the first G7 nation to join the belt and road programme, in a bid to boost exports and upgrade its port facilities.

Last year Greece – ranked second lowest in economic competitiveness within the EU by the World Economic Forum in 2018 – signed up to the scheme, after years of relying on China to help it through its own financial crisis.

Chinese state-owned shipping company Cosco bought a 51 per cent stake in Pireaus Port, Greece’s most important infrastructure hub in 2016 with an option to buy another 16 per cent after five years.

China aims to make the port the “dragon head” of its belt and road programme, serving as a gateway for its cargo to Europe and North Africa.

Will Greece be China’s bridge to the rest of Europe?

With its warming relationship with Beijing, Athens has, at times, departed from EU positions on China.

In 2016, Greece helped stop the EU from issuing a unified statement against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. The following year, Athens stopped the bloc from condemning China’s human rights record. Days later, it opposed tougher screening on China’s investments in Europe.

Dragasakis was clear that the EU should not devise any policies that may hinder Greece’s ability to revive its economy.

“Greece badly needs investment. We hope logic will prevail at the end of the day, which means we should take advantage of all opportunities and build on these prospects to further our collaboration,” he said.

“Greece will keep following a multidimensional policy, an inclusive policy, without excluding anyone.”

Dragasakis hit back at France and Germany for treating China as a geopolitical rival, while simultaneously signing up to trade agreements with Beijing.

Days before receiving Chinese President Xi Jinping in France last month, President Emmanuel Macron declared that the “time of European naivety” towards China was over – a remark the Greek deputy prime minister described as “interesting” during the interview.

“It’s so interesting, yes. Mr Macron, despite his statement, actually signed very large-scale agreements with China,” he said, adding: “Germany, the same”.

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Elysee Palace in Paris last month. Photo: AFP
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Elysee Palace in Paris last month. Photo: AFP

Macron invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to his meeting in Paris with Xi, where the four sought to reassure each other over economic cooperation between the European trading bloc and China.

Dragasakis said Greece’s relations with China were based on “very solid ground” with the two countries sharing complementary interests, particularly through the belt and road plan.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is understood to be considering joining Foreign Minister George Katrougalos at the belt and road summit in Beijing, which will be hosted by Xi later this month.

More than 40 heads of state are expected to attend the summit, with China’s foreign ministry recently saying that Europe had started to see the value of the scheme.

If confirmed, Tsipras’ presence at the summit will be interpreted as an attempt by Greece to consolidate Chinese support in the wake of Italy’s joining of the scheme.

He will also need to mend ties with Beijing, following a recent decision by Greece’s archaeological body to block a plan by Cosco to upgrade facilities at the Piraeus port, throwing the future of the multimillion euro privatisation deal into uncertainty.

Portugal’s support for China’s belt and road plan ‘bad news’ for EU

Dragasakis said there were strong prospects for the future relationship between Greece and China because of the two countries’ reciprocal interest.

Relations with other Asian countries, while not yet as close as Greek ties with China, would continue to be developed, he said.

Dragasakis said Athens would not adopt discriminatory policies against any country as it looked to shore up foreign investments to boost its economy.

India, for instance, has set its sights on Greece as a potential business partner, with President Ram Nath Kovind becoming its first titular head of state to visit Greece last year.

“Relations with India are lagging behind – they are not at the same level as with China, but of course we are mulling further developments with India,” Dragasakis said, adding that Greece would also work more closely with Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.

EU leaders hold out olive branch to Chinese ‘rival’ by saying they want active role in Belt and Road Initiative

EU leaders hold out olive branch to China over belt and road

Read more

China will not divide Europe, senior diplomat says

China will not divide Europe, senior diplomat says

Read more

Beijing calls for ‘objective’ assessment of human rights record.


Source: SCMP

07/04/2019

Pakistan says India preparing another attack this month

KARACHI (Reuters) – Pakistan has “reliable intelligence” that India will attack again this month, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Sunday, as tension over a February standoff between the two nuclear-armed neighbours had appeared to ease.

The attack could take place between April 16 and 20, he said, adding that Pakistan had told the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council of its concerns.

A suicide car bombing by Pakistan-based militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police on Feb. 14 and the risk of conflict rose dramatically on Feb. 27, when India launched an air strike on what it said was a militant training base.

The following day Pakistan shot down an Indian fighter jet and captured its pilot who was later released.

“We have reliable intelligence that India is planning a new attack on Pakistan. As per our information this could take place between April 16 and 20,” Qureshi told reporters in his hometown of Multan.

He did not elaborate on what evidence Pakistan had or how he could be so specific with the timing, but he said Prime Minister Imran Khan had agreed to share the information with the country.

India’s foreign office didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Khan blamed India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for “whipping up war hysteria” over claims that India shot down a Pakistani F-16 during the February standoff.

India said it, too, had shot down a Pakistani aircraft and the air force displayed pieces of a missile that it said had been fired by a Pakistani F-16 before it went down.
The success of Indian air strikes on a camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group in northwestern Pakistan has also been thrown into doubt after satellite images showed little sign of damage.
Pakistan closed its airspace amid the standoff but most commercial air traffic has since resumed and major airports have opened.
Source: reuters
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