Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

China's embrace of hostage diplomacy is no idle threat

The Chinese government is threatening to detain foreign citizens unless their home governments do what Beijing demands. In some cases, China has already made good on those threats.

The big picture: This marks a potential evolution of China's "wolf warrior diplomacy" to outright rogue state behavior, putting it in the company of countries like North Korea and Iran, which have also engaged in hostage diplomacy.


Driving the news: Over the summer, Chinese officials told the Trump administration they may detain Americans in China if the Department of Justice prosecutes scholars with ties to China's military, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

  • The threats began after the FBI interrogated a visiting Chinese military researcher, who then spent weeks sheltering in the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, a story first reported by Axios.

It's no idle threat. In 2018, China detained two Canadian citizens, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, just days after Canada arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to comply with a U.S. extradition request.

  • The two men have since been charged with espionage-related crimes and held without consular or lawyer visits.
  • Those arrests cast a chill over Canadian citizens living in China as the relationship between China and Canada swiftly deteriorated.

Australia, too, has felt pressure. Earlier this year, Australia led the effort to launch a World Health Organization investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, drawing intense criticism from China, which then imposed trade sanctions on Australia.

  • Then, in early September, Australian diplomats assisted two Australian journalists in leaving China amid concerns Chinese authorities might detain them.

The Chinese government has also detained or even abducted from abroad foreign nationals of Chinese origin, such as the Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai, though Gui's case did not seem intended to pressure the Swedish government.

What the U.S. is saying: “If China wants to be seen as one of the world’s leading nations, it should respect the rule of law and stop taking hostages," John Demers, head of the national security division at the Department of Justice, told the Wall Street Journal.

What China is saying: "By alleging that foreign nationals are arbitrarily detained in China, the United States is acting as the guilty party blaming the innocent," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian in an Oct. 19 press briefing.

The bottom line: China's actions threaten the image it has sought to project to the rest of the world, as a responsible rising power and a less-coercive alternative to the West.

In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 11 highlights

Day 11 of the Tokyo Olympic Games Norway's Karsten Warholm smash the world record in the 400-meter hurdles — and so did the second-placed American Rai Benjamin on Tuesday.

The big picture: Meanwhile, in men's basketball Team USA overcame a tough challenge from Spain to win 95-81 and advance to the semifinals, with Kevin Durant scoring 29 points for the Americans.

Keep reading... Show less

Raven Saunders says U.S. athletes planned "X" protests "for weeks"

Raven Saunders, the American Olympian facing a possible investigation for making a protest gesture on the podium over the weekend, told the New York Times Monday that U.S. athletes had planned "for weeks" to demonstrate against oppression.

Why it matters: Protests are banned at the Tokyo Games. Saunders told the NYT a group of American Olympians had settled on the "X" symbol, which she gestured on the podium after winning silver in the shot put Sunday, to represent "unity with oppressed people."

Keep reading... Show less

Study: Social media giants failed to remove 84% of antisemitic posts

Five social media giants failed to remove 84% of antisemitic posts in May and June — and Facebook performed the worst despite announcing new rules to tackle the problem, a new report finds.

Driving the news: The Center for Countering Digital Hatred (CCDH) notes in its study that it reported 714 posts containing "anti-Jewish hatred" to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and TikTok — which were collectively viewed 7.3 million times. These "clearly violated" company policies, according to the CCDH.

Keep reading... Show less

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard: "It gets better"

Speaking to reporters after becoming the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics, Laurel Hubbard on Tuesday expressed gratitude for the opportunity to compete as an athlete and the hope that her story will help convince

What she's saying: "All I have ever really wanted as an athlete is just to be regarded as an athlete," Hubbard, said in response to a question from Axios. "I suppose the thing I have been so grateful here in Tokyo is just being given those opportunities to just go through life as any other athlete."

Keep reading... Show less

Amazon may have violated law in Alabama warehouse vote, NLRB says

Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., should hold a new election to determine whether to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the National Labor Relations Board said in a preliminary finding Monday.

Driving the news: The e-commerce giant may have illegally interfered in a mail-in election tallied in April on whether workers at the plant should unionize, according to a statement from an NLRB hearing officer assigned to the case.

Keep reading... Show less

Evictions lead to rare clash between the White House and Dems

The White House and Democratic leaders have been dueling— publicly and privately — over who should take responsibility for extending an eviction moratorium that could protect millions of people on the verge of homelessness.

Why it matters: It's a rare moment of dysfunction between the usually-in-lockstep Biden team and congressional leadership.

Keep reading... Show less

Lindsey Graham tests positive for COVID-19

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19, despite being vaccinated.

Why it matters: Graham emphasized that the mildness of his symptoms is due to being vaccinated. If he had been unvaccinated his symptoms would be "far worse," he said.

U.S. consulting with U.K., Romania and Israel on response to alleged Iran attack

The British and Romanian governments summoned the Iranian ambassadors to London and Bucharest on Monday to protest last week's drone strike on an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, which both countries have attributed to Iran.

The latest: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a briefing Monday that the U.S. is consulting with the U.K., Romania and Israel to prepare a collective response to the alleged Iranian attack.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories