Cuba announced Monday it had re-established formal contacts with European nations including France, Germany and Britain in a quest to normalize relations after a nearly two-year-long freeze. \nForeign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said the decision was made after an EU commission recommended that member states work to improve relations with Cuba's communist government, in part by ending the practice of inviting dissidents to national holiday celebrations at their embassies in Havana. \n"Due to these pronouncements, Cuba has made the decision to re-establish formal contacts with a group of countries from the European Union," Roque told a news conference. \nRoque said Cuban authorities would immediately start meeting with ambassadors from eight European countries: France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Austria, Greece, Portugal and Sweden. \nRelations between Cuba and Europe chilled after Cuba cracked down on the island's opposition in March 2003, rounding up and sentencing 75 dissidents to long prison terms. \nEuropean nations were also troubled by the firing-squad executions of three men who tried to hijack a ferry to the US. \nEU members responded by unanimously agreeing to reduce high-level governmental visits and participation in cultural events in Cuba and to invite dissidents to embassy gatherings. \nBut some EU nations, led by Spain's new Socialist government, say the EU sanctions have had little effect. In mid-December, an EU commission recommended member states work out a new policy encouraging the Caribbean island to open up. \nMartha Beatriz Roque, one of 14 dissidents from the original group of 75 released from prison last year, said she was disappointed. \n"We are going to continue working to achieve democracy in Cuba, despite the European Union turning its back on us and supporting the Cuban government," Roque said in a telephone interview. \nMonday's announcement came about a month after formal contact was re-established with Spain, Belgium and Hungary. Perez Roque declined to comment on the EU countries with which contact has not been resumed. \nBy late November, as the EU reviewed diplomatic sanctions against Cuba, the government started releasing some of the 75 dissidents from prison. \nIncluding an earlier release of dissidents for health reasons, 14 of the original 75 have now been freed, leaving another 61 still behind bars.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread