European Parliament call for halt to Russian gas pipeline

Germany has come under increased pressure to halt a Russian gas pipeline following the detention in Moscow of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. The European Parliament has backed a call for Nord Stream 2 to be scrapped. MEPs called on EU states to impose sanctions on any Russians involved in jailing Mr Navalny after he returned from Germany where he had been recovering from a nerve agent attack. The US has imposed sanctions on a Russian ship laying the pipeline, Washington argues the project will increase Russian influence over Europe. The US Treasury’s action against the ship Fortuna came in the … Continue reading European Parliament call for halt to Russian gas pipeline

Bullets sent in mail to Huawei’s finance chief

Top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has been sent bullets in the mail while under house arrest in Vancouver, according to court testimony, it was one of several alleged death threats revealed on Wednesday by the company providing her security. Ms Meng was detained in 2018 on charges relating to allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei’s dealings in Iran, her case has created a rift between China and Canada, with Beijing repeatedly calling for her release. The chief financial officer of Huawei was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on a warrant from the US, where she is facing charges of bank fraud … Continue reading Bullets sent in mail to Huawei’s finance chief

Update: US cancels top envoy’s visit to Taiwan

The US State Department has said a planned visit to Taiwan by its United Nations (UN) envoy was cancelled due to the upcoming presidential transition, Kelly Craft was scheduled to arrive in Taipei on Wednesday after Washington abruptly ended long-time curbs on contacts with Taiwan officials. It led Beijing, which views democratic Taiwan as a breakaway province, to warn the US against “playing with fire”. Taiwan expressed regret but also “respect” for the US decision. The planned visit by Ms Craft, the US Ambassador to the UN, was only announced late last week and would have come days before the … Continue reading Update: US cancels top envoy’s visit to Taiwan

US envoy’s last-minute Taiwan visit angers China

A top US diplomat’s upcoming trip to Taiwan as Washington ends decades-old curbs on contacts with Taipei has again escalated Sino-American tensions, Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to the UN, is due to arrive in Taipei on Wednesday for a three-day visit. Her last-minute trip, days before Donald Trump’s presidency ends, has incensed China. Self-governing Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory, has hailed the shift in diplomatic relations. Ambassador Craft’s visit comes after a year of mounting hostility between Washington and Beijing. The democratic island of Taiwan has been a major thorn in the deteriorating relationship, under President … Continue reading US envoy’s last-minute Taiwan visit angers China

US carrier to stay in Gulf due to Iranian threats

The United States has reversed a decision to bring an aircraft carrier home from the Gulf, with the Pentagon saying that due to “recent threats” by Iran, the USS Nimitz would stay in position. The Nimitz has been patrolling Gulf waters since late November. In a statement on December 31, acting US Defense Secretary Christopher C Miller ordered the vessel to “transit directly home to complete a nearly 10-month deployment”. The New York Times newspaper, quoting US officials, said the move was part of a “de-escalatory” signal to Tehran to avoid a conflict during President Donald Trump’s last days in … Continue reading US carrier to stay in Gulf due to Iranian threats

US bombers fly over the Gulf amid tensions with Iran

The United States flew strategic bombers over the Gulf on Wednesday for the second time this month, in what Washington says is a show of force meant to deter Iran from attacking American or allied targets in the Middle East. One senior US military officer said the flight by two Air Force B-52 bombers was in response to signals that Iran may be planning attacks against US allied targets in neighbouring Iraq or elsewhere in the region in the coming days, even as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office. The officer was not authorized to publicly discuss internal assessments … Continue reading US bombers fly over the Gulf amid tensions with Iran

Taiwan says faces daily threats as US notifies of $280m arms sale

Taiwan faces daily military threats from “authoritarian forces”, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, as the United States announced a new $280m arms sale package to the Chinese-claimed island, the sixth this year. The outgoing Trump administration has ramped up support for the democratic island, with 11 arms sale packages in total and on Monday notified Congress of it’s plans to sell a new Field Information Communications System (FICS) to Taiwan, the system is designed to provide mobile and secure communications on the island and is part of Taiwan’s goal to modernize it’s military communications. Such sales have angered China, … Continue reading Taiwan says faces daily threats as US notifies of $280m arms sale

Possible deal for arrested Huawei finance chief

The US Department of Justice is discussing a possible deal with Huawei’s finance chief Meng Wanzhou, according to reports, the deal would reportedly let Ms Meng return to China from Canada, where she was arrested in 2018. She would be required to admit wrongdoing in the case, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the possible deal. Ms Meng faces US charges over alleged violations of sanctions on Iran, the bank fraud charges are for allegedly misleading HSBC in a way which might lead to it break US sanctions on Iran. This week marks two years since Ms … Continue reading Possible deal for arrested Huawei finance chief

Russia threatened to ram US ship in Sea of Japan

Russia says one of its warships caught and chased off a US Navy destroyer after it entered territorial waters in the Sea of Japan on Tuesday, Moscow accused the USS John S McCain of travelling 2km (1.2 miles) across it’s maritime border in ‘Peter The Great’ Gulf and says it threatened to ram the ship. The US warship then left the area, according to Russia. However, the US Navy denied any wrongdoing and said it’s ship had not been “expelled”. The incident took place on Tuesday in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, a body of … Continue reading Russia threatened to ram US ship in Sea of Japan

China’s top diplomat to visit Tokyo, Korea amid regional tensions

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is set to visit Tokyo on Tuesday, marking the first such high-level trip since Japan picked a new leader in September, his visit comes amid mounting concerns over Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the region. It is widely expected that Wang could make a courtesy call on Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has so far sought to balance Japan’s deep economic reliance on China while addressing security worries, including Beijing’s claims over disputed East China Sea islets. While Suga has steered clear of the harsh anti-China rhetoric used by the United States, Japan’s key ally, he … Continue reading China’s top diplomat to visit Tokyo, Korea amid regional tensions

Armenia foreign minister quits as gov’t under fire over ceasefire

Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan has quit his post, in the most significant departure of a government official following a deal last week that ended fierce fighting with Azeri forces over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The resignation, announced by the ministry’s spokeswoman in a Facebook post on Monday, comes as pressure is rising on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to step down. Thousands of demonstrators protested last week to demand he resign over a ceasefire that secured territorial gains for Azerbaijan after six weeks of battles that resulted in the deaths of more than 2,300 Armenian servicemen, Azerbaijan has not … Continue reading Armenia foreign minister quits as gov’t under fire over ceasefire

Canada announces new pathway to residency for Hong Kong people

Canada has announced a new programme that will make it easier for young Hong Kong residents to work, study and reside in the country, a move that is likely to further strain the relationship between Ottawa and Beijing. In a news conference on Thursday, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Hong Kong residents who completed post-secondary education within the last five years would be able to apply for an open work permit in Canada. Hong Kong residents already in Canada who meet certain criteria, including at least one year of work experience in the country, also will be able to apply … Continue reading Canada announces new pathway to residency for Hong Kong people