Philippines eyes withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

Marje Pelayo   •   July 15, 2019   •   2615

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. hinted on the possible withdrawal of the Philippines from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNCHR).

Locsin posted the idea on Saturday (July 13) when a netizen inquired about how the Philippine representation in Iceland reacted to the Council’s approval of Iceland’s resolution seeking to probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines in relation to the Duterte administration’s drug war.

The resolution garnered 18 affirmative votes, 14 negative and 15 abstentions.

 “No embassy in Iceland. Nor does Iceland have an embassy here. Iceland took the place of the US after it withdrew from the Human Rights Council. I think we need to follow America more,” Locsin said.

The United States withdrew from the UNHRC on June 19, 2018 in protest to what it claimed as ‘chronic bias’ against Israel and for allowing human rights violators and abusers as members.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley then described the human rights body as ‘hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”

“For too long, the human rights council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias,” Haley said during the official announcement of U.S. withdrawal from UNHRC.

In October 2018, the Philippines lobbied for a seat at the UNHRC and won after receiving 165 votes of 192 cast by UN member states.

Pompeo says closed Chinese consulate in Houston was ‘den of spies’

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday (July 30) the “tide is turning” in U.S. dealings with China, saying there is international support for American policies, including the step-up of maritime maneuvers in the South China Sea.

Reflecting rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, Pompeo took a tough line on China in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“We see the Chinese Communist Party for what it is: the center threat of our times,” Pompeo said.

In recent days, Washington and Beijing have each closed one of the other country’s consulates – the United States closing China’s office in Houston and China retaliating by shuttering the U.S. facility in Chengdu – and Pompeo recently announced an end to Hong Kong’s special trading status.

“We closed the consulate in Houston because it was a den of spies,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo was testifying publicly at Foreign Relations Committee hearing for the first time in 15 months, discussing the State Department’s annual budget request.

President Donald Trump’s administration has tried to slash the State Department budget since it took office, which has been rejected by Congress every year. Democratic lawmakers told the hearing that they would not support steep cuts this year either. (Reuters)

(Production: Kia Johnson)

China informs US to close consulate general in Chengdu

UNTV News   •   July 24, 2020

Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday informed the U.S. Embassy in China of its decision to withdraw its consent for the establishment and operation of the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu.

The ministry also made specific requirements on the ceasing of all operations and events by the Consulate General, said a statement issued by the ministry.

On July 21, the United States launched a unilateral provocation by abruptly demanding that China close its Consulate General in Houston, the statement said.

The U.S. move seriously breached international law, the basic norms of international relations, and the terms of the China-U.S. Consular Convention. It gravely harmed China-U.S. relations, said the statement.

The measure taken by China is a legitimate and necessary response to the unjustified act by the United States. It conforms with international law, the basic norms of international relations, and customary diplomatic practices, said the statement.

The statement said the current situation in China-U.S. relations is not what China desires to see, and the United States is responsible for all this.

“We once again urge the United States to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track,” the statement added. (Reuters)

Trump says closing more Chinese consulates in US ‘always possible’

UNTV News   •   July 23, 2020

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday (July 22) it was “always possible” he would order the closure of more Chinese consulates in the United States in the wake of the State Department’s order to close Beijing’s consulate in Houston.

Trump, at a White House news conference, noted that a fire was spotted on the Houston consulate’s grounds after the State Department ordered the closure in 72 hours, marking a dramatic deterioration in relations between the world’s two biggest economies.

The U.S. State Department said earlier on Wednesday the Chinese mission in Houston was being closed “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”

Overnight in Houston, firefighters went to the consulate after smoke was seen. Two U.S. government officials said they had information that documents were being burned there.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the consulate was operating normally.

The ministry said Washington had abruptly issued the demand to close the consulate on Tuesday and called it an “unprecedented escalation.” (Reuters)

(Production: Njuwa Maina)

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