China accuses Britain, EU of hypocrisy over Canada detentions concerns

Canadian police arrested Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on Dec 1. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 December 2018
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China accuses Britain, EU of hypocrisy over Canada detentions concerns

  • China expressed “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” to comments by Canada, the United States and others
  • “We urge relevant countries to earnestly respect China’s judicial sovereignty,” an official said

BEIJING: China accused Britain and the European Union of hypocrisy on Monday for expressing concern about China’s detention of two Canadian citizens, saying they had double standards for not mentioning a senior Chinese executive arrested in Canada.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Saturday Canada will maintain a high-level campaign in the coming days to seek support from allies as it pressures China to free the two detained Canadians, who China says are suspected of endangering state security.
Freeland spoke a day after the United States joined Canada in calling on Beijing to release the pair, who were held after Canadian authorities arrested a senior Chinese executive on a US extradition warrant. Britain and the European Union have also expressed support for Canada.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing expressed “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” to comments by Canada, the United States and others on the detained Canadians.
The two, Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat and an adviser with the International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank, and businessman Michael Spavor, are suspected of endangering state security so they are “of course” being detained, Hua said.
“We urge relevant countries to earnestly respect China’s judicial sovereignty,” she told a daily news briefing, reiterating their lawful rights have been guaranteed.
The support of Britain and the European Union was “strange,” Hua added.
“What’s this got to do with Britain and the EU? When the Canadians illegally detained a senior executive at a Chinese company at the request of the United States, where were they?” she said.
“Their so-called human rights have different standards for different countries’ citizens,” Hua added.
Kovrig is also a Hungarian and therefore an EU citizen, sources told Reuters last week.
The two were detained after Canadian police arrested Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on Dec 1.
China again urges Canada to release Meng and the United States to withdraw its arrest warrant, Hua said.
While Meng has had full access to lawyers and is able to see family, Kovrig is being denied legal representation, is not allowed to see family, and is limited to one consular visit a month, sources familiar with the situation say.
No details have been revealed about Spavor’s detention. Canadian diplomats have seen both men at least once since they were detained.
Canada arrested Meng at the request of the United States, which is engaged in a trade war with China. Meng faces extradition to the United States to face fraud charges which carry a maximum sentence of 30 years jail for each charge.
China has given only vague details of why they have detained the two Canadians, and has not drawn a direct link to Meng’s arrest.
Influential state-backed Chinese tabloid the Global Times said in a Monday editorial that Canada would “pay for its bad behavior.”
“Canada’s attempts to resolve a conflict with China by roping in its allies will never work,” it said.


Suicide bombers in deadly attack on Afghan ministry

Updated 20 April 2019
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Suicide bombers in deadly attack on Afghan ministry

  • At least 7 people were killed in the attack on the Afghan communications ministry in Kabul
  • The area around the building was sealed off by police as at least 3 attackers battled security forces for several hours

KABUL: Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the communications ministry in central Kabul on Saturday, officials said, in a deadly, hours-long assault that destroyed weeks of relative calm in the capital.
The Taliban said it had “nothing to do” with the attack, which left some 2,000 people stranded in the tall office building for hours at the start of the Afghan work week.
No other group claimed immediate responsibility, but the Afghan branch of Daesh has previously carried out multiple deadly attacks in the capital.
“As a result of today’s explosion/attack in Kabul city, two people have been martyred (killed) and 6 others are wounded,” the health ministry spokesman wrote in a tweet, adding 3 of the injured were women.
In a statement, the interior ministry said four civilians and three soldiers had been killed, though unverified social media posts suggested the final toll could be higher.
AFP journalists heard one big blast around 11:40 am (0710 GMT), followed by sporadic gunfire for hours afterwards.
“The information that we have is four attackers have placed themselves near the communication ministry and are engaged in gunbattles with the Afghan security forces,” Amanduddin Shariati, a security official in Kabul told AFP.
By about 5:00 p.m. (1230 GMT), the interior ministry declared the assault over.
“Operations finished. All suicide bombers killed & more than 2000 civilians staff rescued,” the ministry said on Twitter.
Panicked workers inside the 18-story building, believed to be Kabul’s tallest, moved up to the top floor as gunmen and Afghan security officials battled lower down.
One woman said she had been in a group of about 30 people on the 10th floor when the assault started, then was told to move up to the 18th floor as gunfire increased. They were all eventually rescued by commandos.
“Women were screaming and children of the kindergarten were the first to be evacuated,” the woman, who did not want to be named, told AFP.
Afghan authorities gave conflicting reports during the incident. The information ministry initially said three suicide bombers had attacked a post office building at the ministry.
General Sayed Mohammad Roshan Dil, the Kabul police chief, said four attackers had been wearing police uniforms and had targeted a shrine near the ministry.
Footage on local television showed a small plume at the building, and people climbing out windows on a lower level.
The presidential palace said in a statement “the enemies of Afghanistan have conducted a terrorist attack.”
“Once again they have created fear and have killed or wounded a number of innocent countrymen,” the statement read.
The communication ministry is located in downtown Kabul, about two kilometers (1.25 miles) from the green zone, a heavily fortified compound for foreign embassies.
The area is the city’s main commercial zone and is home to a large hotel.
Aside from a grenade attack on a military vehicle last week and persistent crime, the capital has in recent weeks enjoyed a period of relative calm.
Last year however saw a string of attacks including one where a massive bomb concealed in an ambulance killed more than 100 people.
The attack comes a week after the Taliban announced their annual spring offensive and amid ongoing fighting across Afghanistan.
It illustrates the sprawling nature of Afghanistan’s conflict, and the obstacles to peace even if a deal is reached with the Taliban.
This week in the Qatari capital Doha, a summit planned between the Taliban and officials from across Afghanistan was scrapped at the last minute due to bickering over who should attend the conference.
The collapse comes at a critical time and amid continued bloodshed in Afghanistan, where the Taliban now control or influence about half of Afghanistan and 3,804 civilians were killed there last year, according to a UN tally.
Taliban officials are separately negotiating with the United States, which wants to forge a peace deal with the militants.