Factbox: China’s numerous diplomatic disputes

BEIJING (Reuters) – China is engaged in diplomatic disputes on numerous fronts, from acrimony with the United States to a backlash over its clampdown on Hong Kong, a border dispute with India and criticism over its handling of the novel coronavirus.

Following are some of the main points of contention between China and other countries:


From disputes over trade and technology, to U.S. criticism over the coronavirus outbreak and China’s accusation of U.S. backing for protests in Hong Kong, ties between the world’s two biggest economies are at their lowest point in decades.


China’s plan to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong provoked U.S. retaliation and disapproval from other Western capitals. The city’s former colonial ruler Britain said it would offer extended visa rights to British national overseas (BNO) passport holders from Hong Kong.


Several countries, including the United States and Australia, have called for China to be held to account for its early handling of the coronavirus, which emerged late last year in the city of Wuhan. China has also faced criticism for what some have characterized as heavy-handed “virus diplomacy”.


China has stepped up diplomatic and military pressure on Chinese-claimed but democratically ruled Taiwan, trying to coax it into accepting Chinese rule. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, re-elected by a landslide in January, has rejected that, saying only Taiwan’s people can decide its future.


China and India are engaged in the most serious military standoff on their disputed border since 2017, with soldiers in the remote Ladakh region accusing each other of encroachment.


China has been criticized in Washington and elsewhere over its treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims in its western Xinjiang region. Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation calling for sanctions on officials responsible for the oppression of Uighurs.


The United States has raised security concerns over equipment provided by Chinese telecoms gear giant Huawei, warning that allies that use it in their networks risked being cut off from valuable intelligence-sharing feeds. Last month, the United States moved to block global chip supplies to Huawei, which denies that its equipment poses a security risk.


Ties have been strained since Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, daughter of the firm’s founder, in late 2018. Soon after, China detained two Canadians and blocked imports of some canola seed. Meng lost a court ruling last month in her fight against extradition to the United States.


EU foreign ministers agreed last week to toughen their strategy on China to counter its increasingly assertive diplomacy against a backdrop of concern about Hong Kong. The bloc has been frustrated over market access for its companies in China, which has sought to block an EU report alleging that China was spreading disinformation about the coronavirus outbreak, according to diplomatic sources.


China last month imposed tariffs on barley imports from Australia, the latest escalation between them. Relations soured in 2018 when Australia banned Huawei from its 5G broadband network, and China has been angered by Australia’s call for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus.


China has overlapping claims in the energy-rich South China Sea, which is also an important trade route, with the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan. The United States has accused China of taking advantage of the distraction of the coronavirus to advance its presence in the waters.

(Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing by Robert Birsel)

U.S., Turkey agree to try to resolve disputes after relations dive

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives at Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Subang, Malaysia August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

By David Brunnstrom

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed on Friday to try to resolve a series of disputes, after relations between the NATO allies sank to their lowest point in decades.

Their meeting in Singapore followed Washington’s imposition on Wednesday of sanctions on two Turkish ministers over the case of Andrew Brunson, a U.S. pastor on trial in Turkey for backing terrorism.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert described their conversation on the sidelines of a regional ministers’ meeting as constructive. “They agreed to continue to try to resolve the issues between our two countries,” she said.

Cavusoglu said he had repeated Turkey’s message that “the threatening language and sanctions does not achieve anything”, but added that he and Pompeo would take steps to resolve their differences when they returned home.

“Of course you can’t expect all issues to be resolved in a single meeting,” he told Turkish television channels. “But we have agreed to work together, closely cooperate and keep the dialogue in the coming period,” he added, also describing the talks as very constructive.

Washington imposed sanctions on Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, accusing them of playing leading roles in organizations responsible for the arrest and detention of Brunson, an evangelical Christian who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades. The move sent the Turkish lira to record low.

Within hours Turkey vowed to retaliate ‘without delay’ but since then the tone of comments from Ankara has moderated and so far it has taken no such step. Finance minister Berat Albayrak, who is President Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law, also said relations with the United States would never break down, despite the temporary escalation.

Pompeo told reporters the United States had put Turkey on notice “that the clock had run and it was time for Pastor Brunson to be returned”.

“I hope they’ll see this for what it is, a demonstration that we’re very serious,” he said of the sanctions. “We consider this one of the many issues that we have with the Turks.”

“Brunson needs to come home. As do all the Americans being held by the Turkish government. Pretty straightforward. They’ve been holding these folks for a long time. These are innocent people,” he said. “We are going to work to see if we can find a way forward; I am hopeful that we can.”

The United States has also been seeking the release of three locally employed embassy staff detained in Turkey.


Brunson is charged with supporting a group Ankara blames for orchestrating an attempted coup in 2016. He denies the charges but faces up to 35 years in jail.

He was accused of helping supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric who Turkish authorities say masterminded the coup attempt in which 250 people were killed. He was also charged with supporting outlawed Kurdish PKK militants. Gulen denies the allegations.

Turkey has been trying to have Gulen extradited from the United States for two years.

Finance Minister Albayrak said on Thursday the sanctions would have a limited impact on the Turkish economy, although investors’ deepening concern over ties with the United States, also a major trading partner, sent the lira to record lows.

On Friday, the currency fell to 5.1140 against the dollar. The sell-off also hammered Turkish stocks and debt risk profile.

Brunson was in a Turkish prison for 21 months until he was transferred to house arrest last week. On Tuesday, a court rejected his appeal to be released altogether during his trial.

Washington and Ankara are also at odds over the Syrian war, Turkey’s plan to buy missile defenses from Russia and the U.S. conviction of a Turkish state bank executive on Iran sanctions-busting charges this year.

Brunson’s case has resonated with President Donald Trump and particularly with Vice President Mike Pence, who has close ties to evangelical Christians. Pence has been pressing behind the scenes for action, aides said.

(Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in Istanbul; Editing by Nick Macfie, Paul Tait and David Stamp)