A Chinese-Russian resolution aimed at easing international sanctions on North Korea is a "timely" step in the "right direction," China's UN ambassador Zhang Jun said Friday.

China calls for easing UN sanctions on N.Korea

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Agence France-Presse

A Chinese-Russian resolution aimed at easing international sanctions on North Korea is a “timely” step in the “right direction,” China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jun said Friday.

His comments came only days after Pyongyang, deeply frustrated that those sanctions remain in place despite its suspension of nuclear and long-range missile testing, announced it no longer felt bound by the moratorium.

Two previous Security Council sessions on the Chinese-Russian proposal failed to produce agreement, but Zhang said Beijing hoped “that we can build up more consensus.”

“We can really contribute to the political dialogue between the parties concerned, especially between the United States and DPRK,” or North Korea, he added.

Asked when the council might next vote on the draft resolution, Zhang said only that consultations were continuing.

When Pyongyang announced the end of its moratorium on Wednesday, the US response was cautiously worded. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the North’s leader Kim Jong Un to “take a different course” and stressed that Washington wanted “peace, not confrontation.”

But the US gave no suggestion it was ready to ease sanctions.

Similarly, European diplomats have insisted for months that there should be no lifting of the sanctions until the North takes concrete and verifiable steps toward nuclear disarmament — which is the US goal as well.

– ‘Suffering of innocents’ –
The Chinese-Russian draft, distributed to other council members on December 17, calls for an end to several sanctions agreed in 2017, notably a ban on purchasing textile and seafood products from North Korea.

Beijing and Moscow are also calling for an end to a measure that required UN member states to stop employing North Korean workers, a major source of income for Pyongyang, by December 22, 2019.

Asked whether China — the largest foreign employer of North Korean workers along with Russia — had complied with that requirement, Zhang said his country had taken the sanctions “seriously.”

He added, however, that “we do see some negative effects by the sanctions, especially sanctions affecting the livelihood of innocent, ordinary people.

“We should adjust the sanctions,” he added, to alleviate “the sufferings of innocent peoples.”

North Korea’s self-imposed testing ban had been a centerpiece of its roller-coaster nuclear diplomacy with the US over the past two years.

Any actual test would likely infuriate US President Trump — who is also facing sharp tensions with Iran and his still-unscheduled impeachment trial.

The Security Council’s rotating presidency is held this month by Vietnam, one of five new non-permanent members to begin two-year terms on the council on January 1.

The others are Tunisia, Niger, Estonia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

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POLITIKO / Across the Nation

POLITIKO / Latest News

Twitter to boot users who persist with Covid-19 lies

Twitter said Monday it will start labeling misleading tweets about Covid-19 vaccines and boot users who persist in spreading such misinformation.

The one-to-many messaging service introduced a “strike system” that will gradually escalate to a permanent ban after the fifth offending tweet.

“We believe the strike system will help to educate the public on our policies and further reduce the spread of potentially harmful and misleading information on Twitter,” the San Francisco-based company said in a blog post.

“Particularly for repeated moderate and high-severity violations of our rules.”

Twitter users will be notified when a tweet is labeled as misleading or needs to be removed for breaking the platform’s rules, earning a strike, according to the company.

The second and third strikes will each result in the violating account being blocked for 12 hours.

With a fourth violation, an account will be sidelined for seven days. A fifth strike will get accounts permanently suspended, Twitter said.

Twitter late last year began calling on users to remove dangerously misleading Covid-19 claims, including suggestions that vaccines are used to harm or control people.

The service also targeted baseless claims about adverse effects of vaccines or questioning the reality of the pandemic.

Since then, Twitter has removed more than 8,400 tweets and notified some 11.5 million accounts worldwide about violations of its Covid-19 information rules.

The strike system is similar to what Twitter applies to election-related misinformation, which led to former US president Donald Trump being permanently banned for repeated violations, including language that the platform said could incite violence and questioning the integrity of the voting process.

Covid-19 vaccination campaigns are taking place in many countries in an effort to keep people healthy and return to pre-pandemic lifestyles.

YouTube and Facebook are among the online platforms that have taken steps to fight the spread of lies about the pandemic and vaccines.


© Agence France-Presse

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Tokyo asks China to end Covid-19 anal swabs for Japanese

Japan has asked China to avoid using anal swabs to test its citizens for coronavirus, saying the method prompted complaints of “psychological distress”.

Tokyo’s intervention comes after reports that US diplomatic personnel in China had complained of being subjected to the intrusive tests — a claim Beijing denied.

China, which has largely brought the virus under control domestically, said last month that anal swabs can be more effective than normal throat and nose tests as the virus can linger longer in the digestive system.

But Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said late Monday that Tokyo had made a formal request through its embassy in Beijing that people arriving from the country be exempted.

“Our embassy requested Japanese citizens be excluded from anal PCR tests, as some Japanese expatriates… expressed the opinion that the tests produce significant psychological distress,” Kato said.

“At this point we have not received a response that they change this… We will continue pressing the issue,” he added, noting that there was no information that any other country was using the method.

Asked about the complaint, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Beijing’s testing methods were “science-based” and “in accordance with the changes in the epidemic situation as well as relevant laws and regulations”.

Last month, US media said State Department personnel in China had complained about the method, but Beijing rebuffed the reports, saying it had “never requested US diplomatic personnel in China to undergo anal swabs”.

Officials in China have used anal swabs to test people it considers at high-risk of contracting Covid-19, including residents of neighbourhoods with confirmed cases as well as some international travellers.

But they have acknowledged it would be hard to use anal swabs as widely as the other methods, which have been used to test millions in mass campaigns, as the technique was “not convenient”. Agence France-Presse

Philippines fires diplomat whose maid attacks were caught on film

The Philippines has sacked its former ambassador to Brazil, after she was caught on camera attacking a domestic worker at her official residence in Brasilia.

Marichu Mauro was recalled to Manila late last year after Brazil’s GloboNews channel broadcast security camera footage filmed over eight months showing her repeatedly assaulting a member of her household staff.

The career diplomat has now been dismissed from the foreign service, President Rodrigo Duterte told a television audience on Monday.

“There are rules to be followed. If you disobey, you take the risk. If something goes wrong, it’s gonna hit you,” Duterte said.

Mauro’s firing means she will lose her pension. She is also barred from standing for public office.

According to GloboNews, the Filipino worker was employed at the ambassador’s official residence, a large gated compound in Brazil’s capital.

Footage of the abuse — dated between March and October 2020 — was used as evidence in a complaint lodged with the Philippine government against Mauro, it said.

Mauro was posted to Brazil in 2018, from where she oversaw the missions to Colombia, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.

Mauro has not responded to AFP’s request for comment on her dismissal.

Millions of Filipinos escape low wages, unemployment and limited opportunities at home by going overseas, including as to become domestic workers. Their remittances are vital to the local economy.

But many of these workers face difficult or dangerous conditions, and reports of physical or psychological abuse are not uncommon, though most instances involve foreign employers. Agence France-Presse



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