Beijing Pushes Back on Trump Admin Over Disputed Islands in South China Sea
Richard Engel and Marc Smith and Eric Baculinao, NBC NEWS
After White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer vowed that the United States would stand up to China’s military expansion in the South China Sea, officials here are firing back. “There might be a difference” of opinion regarding who has sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea, “but that’s not for the United States” to get involved in, Lu Kang, a senior official with the Chinese foreign ministry, told NBC News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. “This issue touches upon China’s core interests. By no means is this something that can be negotiated, or [used] as a bargaining chip,” Lu said.
Trump’s Climate Stance Threatens to Worsen China Relations
Joe Ryan, BLOOMBERG
President Donald Trump’s vow to pull back from climate-change efforts endangers one of the few areas where China and the US have seen eye-to-eye, exacerbating tensions as he takes on more contentious subjects. “There is a long history of countries that struggle to get along, using the subject of the environment to continue talking and build good will,” said David Victor, co-chair of the Brookings Institution’s foreign policy, energy security, and climate initiative. Global warming remains a priority for most world leaders. If the US steps back, the diplomatic fallout will extend far beyond China, said David Wasko, director of climate initiatives for the World Resources Institute.
Liberal Think Tank Is Latest to Be Silenced in China
Gerry Shih, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Authorities in China have shuttered the website and social media accounts of a prominent economics think tank amid a mounting assault on liberal academic voices. The Unirule Institute of Economics in Beijing has become the latest target of a government crackdown after the forced retirement of a professor who criticized Mao Zedong and sacking of a provincial official who called communist China’s founder the “devil.”
Trump’s New Cuba Negotiator Fought For Stronger Cuba Ties
Hayes Brown, BUZZFEED
The attorney President Donald Trump has chosen to lead his administration’s most sensitive negotiations between the US and Cuba leads a set of nonprofits supporting stronger ties between the countries — a position at odds with Trump campaign statements. Until December, Jason Greenblatt served as a senior vice president at the Trump Organization and acted as the corporation’s chief legal officer. He was sworn in on Sunday as the White House’s “special representative for international negotiations.”
North Korean Elite Are Turning Against Leader Kim, Top Defector Claims
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
The North Korean elite are outwardly expressing their discontent towards young leader Kim Jong-un and his government as more outside information trickles into the isolated country, North Korea’s former deputy ambassador to London said on Wednesday. Thae Yong-ho, the most senior official to have fled North Korea, said, “Low-level dissent or criticism of the regime, until recently unthinkable, is becoming more frequent.”
Russia Is Targeting French, Dutch And German Elections With Fake News, EU Task Force Warns
Justin Huggler and Roland Oliphant, THE TELEGRAPH
Russia is seeking to influence the outcome of several key elections in European countries this year with fake news, a special task force set up by the European Union has warned. The EU is reportedly allocating more funds to its East StratCom task force to counter the disinformation, amid fears Russia will target elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands “There is an enormous, far-reaching, at least partly organized, disinformation campaign against the EU, its politicians and its principles,” a source close to the task force told Germany’s Spiegel magazine.
Russia: We Want to Normalize Relations with US, Europe
Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called for the “re-establishment of normal relations” between Russia and the United States under the Trump administration. His desire for better US-Russian relations on Wednesday echoes previous statements by US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. “Following the difficult relations we had under Barack Obama, President Putin is ready to meet in the interests of global security and stability,” Lavrov said, in remarks to Russia’s lower house of parliament. “We share the position expressed by President Trump for re-establishing normal relations. This means we need to work in a businesslike way.”
Senate Committee Moving Forward with Russia Hacking Probe
Jordain Carney, THE HILL
The Senate Intelligence Committee is moving forward with its probe into Russian meddling in the US presidential race. Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), the top members on the committee, made the announcement after the intelligence panel held its weekly closed-door briefing on Tuesday. “The Committee today agreed to move forward, under terms of reference proposed by Chairman Burr and Vice Chairman Warner, with its inquiry into Russian efforts directed against the 2016 US elections and related efforts abroad,” read a joint statement from the pair.
Vietnam Hits Activist with Article 88 Anti-State Charge
RADIO FREE ASIA
Vietnamese authorities arrested a human rights activist over the weekend, sparking concern from the UN over Hanoi’s use of a section of the country’s criminal code to throttle dissent. Tran Thi Nga (a.k.a. Thuy Nga) and her husband Phan Van Phong were arrested on Saturday at their home in the northern province of Ha Nam, according to a Facebook post by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Nga was charged under Article 88 of the Vietnam’s Penal Code for allegedly “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” as she is accused of posting anti-state material on the internet, according to state media.