Category Archives: News

Six-Monthly Report To Parliament On Hong Kong: July-December 2017

The UK Government published its latest Six-Monthly Report to Parliament on Hong Kong, covering developments from 1 July to 31 December 2017

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The report covers a broad range of political and economic developments and an overview of UK-Hong Kong bilateral activity over the reporting period.

Writing in his foreword the Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP says:

‘One Country, Two Systems’ remains the fundamental basis which will ensure that Hong Kong’s success continues well into the future” and

I believe it is vital that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy is and is seen to be respected in full, allowing the people of Hong Kong and its authorities to tackle important issues for themselves, in accordance with the Joint Declaration.

The Foreign Secretary writes that

‘One Country, Two Systems’ generally functions well. However the increasing pressure I described in the foreword of my last six-monthly report has continued in the second half of 2017 and where we have seen this, we have consistently raised our concerns with the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities.

I paid close attention to the denial of entry to Hong Kong of Ben Rogers, the UK national and human rights activist, in October and issued a statement expressing my concern and our intent to seek an explanation from the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Chinese authorities. Beijing’s involvement in this case has strengthened our view that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy is under increasing pressure.

On the subject of co-location, the Foreign Secretary calls

on the Chinese and Hong Kong SAR Governments to ensure that the established constitutional framework for any change to the Basic Law is respected to ensure continued confidence in the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle.

On the rule of law, the Foreign Secretary says

The rule of law and independence of the judiciary is the foundation on which Hong Kong’s success and prosperity is built. This reporting period has seen a large number of cases related to the political system come before Hong Kong’s courts, including the disqualification of a further four legislators. The judiciary in Hong Kong remains in high esteem. It will be vital that the Hong Kong SAR Government is seen to use the system of justice fairly in all cases.

Leading The Charge Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

2018 must be the year we mark the beginning of the end of the illegal wildlife trade

Illegal Wildlife Trade

Illegal Wildlife Trade

Some might ask why this matters more than other global agenda issues. It does not. There is much still to be done on poverty alleviation, ensuring education for all, promoting gender equality or addressing climate change, for example, and I could write on all of this and more. But the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) issue deserves attention in its own right, that’s why we mark 3 March as World Wildlife Day.

Can you imagine a future where wild pangolins, sun bears and the Malayan tiger are no longer to be found in their natural habitat? In Malaysia, we have already seen the loss of the Sumatran Rhino in the wild due to the loss of habitat and illegal poaching. Will they and other species simply become a curiosity at a zoo? What if your grandchild or great grandchild in years to come asks you why, what are you going to say? We did not care and we did nothing? That would be a poor response.

In my view this is a future we must avoid, just as we aspire to a future where every child has access to education, where wealth is more equitably shared, women are equally represented and paid, no one is hungry and where climate change has been arrested and our planet, the only home we have, is stable and peaceful and our people prosper. But in such a world we also value our natural world and the richness of its biodiversity and we see a value in how it enriches us in other ways. In that world IWT would not exist as we would know better.

We, as mankind, are the ultimate guardians of our planet and all its inhabitants, human and animal. This planet – our oceans, land and forests – has given us an abundance. It has put food in our stomachs and it has provided us with materials to build everything from our homes to our mobile phones. We have done well as a species but in all things there is a balance. Over exploitation and consumption can tip that balance. We are seeing it now. Extreme climatic conditions are causing drought, floods and cyclones. Plastic is choking our waterways and seas and getting into our food chain. All this risks our health and our societies. It also risks the loss of our amazing biodiversity. The IWT is part of this over exploitation challenge. As I sit on my balcony and observe the astonishing wildlife around me, even in the urban setting of Kuala Lumpur, you can’t help but appreciate the rich biodiversity of this beautiful country. I spot hurrying squirrels, cheeky macaques, my favourite owl, a kingfisher and a green lizard on the tree trunk.

In the jungles that form Peninsular Malaysia’s central forest spine, tigers roam like kings; elsewhere Asian and pygmy elephants move through rainforest leaving behind a trail; orangutans and proboscis monkeys break the dawn looking for food; pangolins and tortoises forage through thick undergrowths; magnificent turtles come ashore to lay their eggs and more. This is the beautiful world that is at risk, not only in Malaysia but across the world’s tropical belt. Today wild animals are being hunted down. Four decades ago, 1.3 million elephants roamed the earth. Now we are down to 415,000 African elephants. The same fate has befallen on the Malayan tiger, a subspecies found only in Peninsular Malaysia and the south of Thailand – from numbers ranging in thousands in the 1950s, to less than 250. If we do nothing, there is a real danger that our great-grandchildren will grow up in a world without the Malayan tiger. Rhinos are certainly extinct in Peninsular Malaysia.

So, it is time to arrest this direction of travel. Action is already being taken in Malaysia, and around the world. Malaysia wants to stop illegal poaching of its iconic wildlife population; and keen to tackle the illegal trade that transits through the country from elsewhere. And this is to be welcomed. Britain will support these efforts. This can happen nationally or at state level. We saw this when we took HRH The Prince of Wales to Royal Belum State Park in Perak last November. It was wonderful to see the patronage of HRH The Sultan of Perak for the work in Belum. We have also heard of the exemplary work being done in Sabah. There is hope when we have collective purpose. Things can be done and the tide can be turned.

Here’s a fact: some 70% of the ivory from elephants brutally and simply killed for their tusks goes to China, where small illicit businesses convert these tusks into ornamental products. Malaysia has been used as a transit country for this illegal trade. But from 31 December 2017 the Chinese government banned the domestic sale of ivory. We have also seen a laudable increase in illegal ivory seizures by the Malaysian authorities. These actions are all part of the change we need to see and encourage. But whilst much will depend on enforcement, we must also work on attitudes and understanding at the consumer end of the market. It is not just about tackling supply. Like all illicit goods, we have to convince people that buying such goods is wrong. It is not just about having a prized possession or believing a particular animal body part has aphrodisiac properties, but understanding the true cost or the lie so that the customer chooses to turn away and so stop the demand.

So Britain is taking a global lead on this agenda as we have done on Climate Change and now also the right to education for Women and Girls in line with our SDG commitments. We will seek to encourage new forms of consensus and collaboration to tackle IWT. Our aim is to make 2018 the year where we put a marker down to defeat it. In 2018, the UK government will act on plans for a British ban on domestic ivory sales. This month, we are partnering the Royal Malaysian Customs and PERHILITAN in organising and hosting an IWT workshop in Kuala Lumpur – this was a commitment made at Belum in the presence of TRHs The Prince of Wales and The Sultan of Perak. In October the UK will host an international conference in London on how to curb IWT globally. And we will do more with partners and friends like Malaysia.

This illegal trade, and the vile indiscriminate poaching at the heart of it, is part of the convoluted syndicate of corruption, money laundering, trafficking and gun-smuggling that criminals feed off, and needs to be seen as such. With more effective determination and cross border enforcement and cooperation, I have no doubt we can curtail the IWT and ensure that future generations share this planet with elephants and tigers till the end of time.

Vicki Treadell, British High Commissioner to Malaysia

Human Rights Council 37: Human Rights Situation In DPRK

This UK statement was delivered at the 37th Session of the Human Rights Council during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in DPRK, held on 12 March 2018

The session takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

The session takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

The United Kingdom thanks the Special Rapporteur for his continued dedication and determination to hold the DPRK to account for widespread and systematic human rights abuses.

The UK remains deeply concerned by the DPRK’s appalling human rights record. The regime maintains a stranglehold on every aspect of its citizens’ lives. The DPRK constitution guarantees freedom of expression, religion, speech, the press, demonstration and association. In practice, none of these freedoms exist. Instead, we continue to see reports of child labour, mass malnutrition, political discrimination, and ‘ideological indoctrination’. Even the cheerleaders sent to the Pyeongchang games were carefully handpicked, strictly monitored and reportedly sent for re-education on their return home.

We continue to believe there is a very different path open to the regime that offers security, prosperity, and the genuine chance of a better life for every citizen. We hope the signal Kim Jong Un is ready to discuss denuclearisation is genuine and this will lead to the DPRK putting the welfare of its people ahead of the illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons.

We urge the DPRK to cooperate with the international community and allow the Special Rapporteur and other human rights mechanisms free and unhindered access to the country.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the economic and social changes taking place in the DPRK, in particular the increased role of free markets in the economy, and what impact this could have on the human rights of people in the DPRK.

Ambassador Yoshiji Nogami Honoured By The Queen

An investiture ceremony was held at the British Embassy Tokyo on 20 February 2018

Investiture Ceremony

Investiture Ceremony

In recognition of his outstanding contribution and a strong commitment to developing excellent relations between Japan and the United Kingdom, throughout a long diplomatic career, and afterwards, Paul Madden, the British Ambassador to Japan, presented Ambassador Yoshiji Nogami, President of Japan Institute of International Affairs, with an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

In a distinguished diplomatic career, which included a posting as Consul General in Hong Kong, and culminated in his appointment to the Court of St James, as Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Nogami has successfully promoted strong diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between our two countries. His time in London saw continued strengthening of Japanese investments in the UK, and the signing of a bilateral Double Taxation Convention.

After retiring from the diplomatic service, he continued to make a very important contribution to UK/Japan relations, through role as Chairman of the Japan British Society in Tokyo. He was a member of the Japan Olympic Committee during the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. As current President of the Japan Institute for International Affairs, he has deepened UK/Japan academic cooperation, and hosted a number of high profile conferences and seminars involving British speakers. He was an Adviser to Prime Minister Abe on the establishment of World Assembly for Women, a very successful annual event.

Diplomatic Security: Chinese New Year Brings New Beginnings To U.S. Consulate General Shanghai

Special Agent, Regional Security Officer, U.S. Consulate General Shanghai

The regional security officer and assistant regional security officer from the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai present American mini-hamburgers to a lieutenant of the Chinese People’s Armed Police (PAP) at a small celebration held in appreciation of the PAP’s support of consulate security, February 8, 2018. (U.S. Department of State photo)

The regional security officer and assistant regional security officer from the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai present American mini-hamburgers to a lieutenant of the Chinese People’s Armed Police (PAP) at a small celebration held in appreciation of the PAP’s support of consulate security, February 8, 2018. (U.S. Department of State photo)

Chinese New Year – China’s most important holiday – is a celebration marking the end of the coldest days. It is a time many spend with family and friends to welcome new beginnings and fresh starts. At the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai, members of the Regional Security Office celebrated the holiday — and the beginning of something new — in a unique way.

During this celebration, up to 400 million people in the country will travel to visit relatives. When Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) special agents learned that some of China’s People’s Armed Police (PAP) soldiers and officers who provide security support at the consulate would be on duty during the holiday, the Regional Security Officer (RSO) and Assistant Regional Security Officer (ARSO) held a ceremony last week to thank PAP for their service and celebrate Chinese New Year… American style.

“PAP plays a crucial role in assisting with security at the consulate,” said Special Agent Sean McClanahan, Consulate General Shanghai RSO. “We wanted to show the officers and soldiers how much we appreciate their contribution to our mission while sharing our culture and honoring theirs.”

The RSO and ARSO purchased American mini hamburgers and presented the feast to the PAP officers and soldiers on duty. Though McClanahan has been assigned to the consulate since 2015, at the small celebration McClanahan discovered the Chinese New Year might indeed be the start of something new at the consulate.

“The ARSO used to play basketball in high school, and we found out many PAP soldiers and officers are huge NBA fans,” said McClanahan

At the get together, Special Agent Ian Norris, Consulate General Shanghai’s ARSO, challenged the PAP guards to a basketball game against the Regional Security Office, the local guard force, and the Marine Security Guards.

“PAP accepted the challenge. They joked that former NBA player Yao Ming lives in Shanghai and may join their team,” said Norris. “Even if Yao Ming can’t make it, I think that would be a great game. Definitely something new here.”

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