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US Orders Closure Of Chinese Consulate In Houston Amid Spying Claims

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look: 23 July 2020


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China’s national flag is seen waving at the China Consulate General in Houston, Texas, U.S., July 22, 2020. REUTERS/Adrees Latif


China given 72 hours to close consulate.


Security/Political // BLUF: The United States has given China 72 hours to close its consulate in Houston, Texas after accusations of spying.


The US Department of State said that the consulate was being closed “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”


China claimed that its embassy in Washington DC had received bomb threats due to US-incited 'smears and hatred' towards China.


This marks the latest in the deteriorating relationship between the US and China.


(See Point 1 Below for Further Information)


The Daily Quick-Look for 23 July 2020

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look is your at-a-glance look at several key events and situations around the world over the last 24 hours. Each headline contains the link to its source report.

BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front.

FYSA = For Your Situational Awareness.



1. UNITED STATES, CHINA - Security/Political: U.S. gives China 72 hours to shut Houston consulate as spying charges mount

FYSA: The United States gave China 72 hours to close its consulate in Houston amid accusations of spying, marking a dramatic deterioration in relations between the world’s two biggest economies. The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday the Chinese mission in Houston was being closed “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.” China’s foreign ministry said Washington had abruptly issued the demand on Tuesday and called it an “unprecedented escalation.” The ministry threatened unspecified retaliation. The Chinese Embassy in Washington had received “bomb and death threats” because of “smears & hatred” fanned by the U.S. government, spokeswoman Hua Chunying wrote in a tweet. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)


2. SOUTH AFRICA - Security (Health)/Economic: South African restaurants plead for end to 'job-killing' restrictions

FYSA: Thousands of South African restaurant and bar owners placed tables and chairs on the streets outside their premises on Wednesday in a nationwide protest against lockdown restrictions that prevent them from selling alcohol or trading after 9 p.m. The nation’s hospitality sector is one of the hardest-hit by government restrictions imposed at the end of March to curb the spread of the coronavirus. At the end of June, restaurants were allowed to offer sit-down services again, but at limited capacity and without serving alcohol. But that is not enough for Llewy Mateza, owner of The Local Grill in the Parktown North suburb of Johannesburg. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)


3. EGYPT - Security: Egypt extends operating hours of cafes, restaurants until midnight from July 26: statement

FYSA: Egypt has extended the operating hours of cafes and restaurants from 10:00 p.m. to midnight while allowing them to operate at 50% capacity starting July 26, the cabinet said in a statement on Wednesday. The operating hours of stores, including malls, were also extended until 10:00 p.m., the statement said. Egypt had reduced operating hours in its initial reopening phase to limit public gatherings and curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)


4. RUSSIA - Political: Gulag historian punished for digging up Russia's past, rights groups say

FYSA: A Russian court has controversially convicted a respected gulag historian of sexual abuse of his adopted daughter, but handed down a sentence that should see him freed in the autumn – even though under the charges he could have been sent to a penal camp for 15 years. Supporters of Yury Dmitriyev, the local head of a prominent rights group, Memorial, in Karelia in north-western Russia, said he was being punished for his work digging into Stalin-era massacres. Memorial said the lenient sentence “can mean only one thing: the prosecution has no proof of Dmitriyev’s guilt. Nevertheless, these charges have already robbed Yury Dmitriyev of more than three years of freedom and ruined his adopted daughter’s life.” His lawyer, Viktor Anufriyev, told reporters that with time served in pre-trial detention Dmitriyev, 64, would be free in three-and-a-half months. He said his client “knows he is not guilty”. (The Guardian. See link in heading for further reading)


5. AUSTRALIA - Security (Health): Victoria lockdown may last two years if coronavirus cases continue to rise

FYSA: Victoria could face up to two years in isolation from the rest of the country if it doesn’t bring its COVID-19 outbreak under control, one epidemiologist has warned. Speaking to the ABC on Wednesday, Professor Tony Blakely said Australia is facing a “real dilemma” with the current coronavirus situation. He said six out of eight territories have achieved elimination “by accident”, meaning they might not open their borders to Victoria or NSW residents until the latter states can achieve the same. “Why would they let anybody in if there’s enough of a risk that they are going to bring the virus?” Prof Blakely said. “So let’s assume that Victoria doesn’t get rid of the virus … It essentially means Victoria is going to have to function in isolation from the rest of Australia until such time as we get a vaccine, assuming the other states don’t want the virus back in. If I was in the (other) states, I wouldn’t want the virus back in.” (News.com.au. See link in heading for further reading)


Global - Economic: Ship owners struggle to bring home crews amid coronavirus chaos

FYSA: Shipping companies are still struggling to get hundreds of thousands of crew members back home after many months at sea despite pledges by countries to ease transit restrictions for seafarers, industry officials say. Countries including the UK, the United States, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines pledged this month to boost efforts to help seafarers, many of whom have been on ships longer than the 11-month limit laid out in a maritime labour convention. Other countries, such as India, have also agreed to do more to help such ship workers. However, shipping officials say there is still little change in a situation that the United Nations has described as a “humanitarian crisis”, while maritime welfare charities have warned of an increase in suicides. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)



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