U.S. lauds Taiwan's democracy, blasts China's 'antipathy to liberty'

WASHINGTON, (CNA).- United States Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday praised Taiwan as a beacon of Chinese culture and democracy, while criticizing China as failing to honor its trade commitments and to observe the right to freedom.

In a speech at the Frederic V. Malek Public Service Leadership Lecture, Pence reaffirmed the U.S.' support for Taiwan.

The U.S. "stood by Taiwan in defense of her hard-won freedoms," he said. "We've authorized additional military sales and recognized Taiwan's place as one of the world's great trading economies and beacons of Chinese culture and democracy."

In China, meanwhile, millions of ethnic and religious minorities are struggling against the Communist Party's efforts to eradicate their religious and cultural identities, Pence said.

Furthermore, China has been turning up the pressure on the democracy in Taiwan over the past year, using checkbook diplomacy to induce two more nations to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, he said, referring to the Pacific nations of the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.

The international community should not forget that "its engagement with Taiwan does not threaten the peace," Pence said. "America will always believe that Taiwan's embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people."

He however reaffirmed the U.S' one China policy, saying it was built on the basis of the three joint communiqués with China and the Taiwan Relations Act.

It was Pence's second public criticism of China in a year, following his remarks in October 2018 at the Hudson Institute on U.S. policy toward China.

In his speech Thursday on the U.S.' relationship with China, Pence again blasted Beijing as suppressing freedom of speech and religion, engaging in unfair trade practices, and stealing U.S. intellectual property.

China has also broken its 2015 pledge not to "militarize" the South China Sea, he said, adding that China has deployed advanced anti-ship and anti-air missiles at military bases constructed on artificial islands in the area.

"But nothing in the past year has put on display the Chinese Communist Party's antipathy to liberty so much as the unrest in Hong Kong," Pence said.

The vice president further said China was trying to "export censorship," as evidenced by the removal of Houston Rockets sneakers and other merchandise from several Nike stores in China amid a furor over a tweet by the basketball team's general manager in support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

"By exploiting corporate greed, Beijing is attempting to influence American public opinion, coercing corporate America," Pence said.

Nonetheless, the U.S. is not seeking confrontation with China, but rather wants to see a level playing field, open markets, fair trade, and respect for American values, he said.

"We are not seeking to contain China's development," Pence said.

"We want a constructive relationship with China's leaders, like we have enjoyed for generations with China's people. And if China will step forward and seize this unique moment in history to start anew by ending the trade practices that have taken advantage of the American people for far too long, I know President Donald Trump is ready and willing to begin that new future."

He said the U.S is reaching out to China in the hope that Beijing will reach back, "this time with deeds, not words, and with renewed respect for America."

In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed thanks for Washington's consistent support, saying Taiwan will continue to work with like-minded nations to protect democracy and international order.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh, Elaine Hou and Elizabeth Hsu)

http://focustaiwan.tw/news/aipl/201910250004.aspx

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  Treasury Removes Sanctions Imposed on Turkish Ministries and Senior Officials Following Pause of Turkish Operations in Northeast SyriaSyria

WASHIGTON.- Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) removed sanctions imposed on the Government of Turkey’s Ministry of National Defence and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, as well as the Minister of National Defence, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and the Minister of the Interior, following Turkey’s pause in military operations in Syria as agreed to with the United States on October 17, 2019 (the October Ceasefire).

“As a result of the ceasefire, and at the direction of President Donald J. Trump, Treasury is delisting two Turkish ministries and three of the country’s senior officials,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

On October 14, 2019, OFAC designated Turkey’s Ministry of National Defence and Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources for being a subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of the Government of Turkey.

OFAC simultaneously designated Hulisi Akar, Minister of National Defence, Suleyman Soylu, the Minister of Interior, and Fatih Donmez, the Minister of Energy pursuant to E.O. 13894 of October 14, 2019, for being a current or former official of the Government of Turkey. Today’s action, taken in consultation with the U.S. Department of State, is a direct result of Turkey’s adherence to the terms of the October Ceasefire.

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property, which had been blocked solely as a result of these designations, are unblocked and all otherwise lawful transactions involving U.S. persons and these entities and individuals are no longer prohibited.

 

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Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Reiterates Terror Finance Risks in Iran, Clarifies “Stablecoin” Guidance, Issues AML/CFT Reports

PARIS.- Today the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) concluded its 31st plenary meeting with a public statement that, among other things, reiterates terrorist financing risks emanating from Iran. The FATF also clarified guidance on “stablecoins” and adopted virtual assets changes, among other reports related to anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).

“For more than three years, Iran has repeated empty promises to the international community to stop financing terrorism and fix its corrupt and opaque financial system,” said Marshall Billingslea, Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes. “The Financial Action Task Force has determined that enough is enough. More countermeasures on Iran are now in force, and countries will be called upon to impose further financial restrictions to protect the international financial system if Iran hasn’t ratified and fully implemented the key treaties related to fighting money laundering and terrorist financing.”

FATF Re-Imposes Several Counter-Measures on Iran
The FATF re-imposed several counter-measures on Iran designed to protect the international financial system from abuse, and committed to continue monitoring Iran’s Action Plan. It also warned that by February 2020, Iran must ratify the Palermo and Terrorist Financing Conventions in line with FATF standards or the FATF will fully lift the suspension of countermeasures.

FATF Clarifies Guidance on “Stablecoins” and Virtual Assets
As a follow-up to the groundbreaking changes to FATF standards regarding virtual assets adopted under the U.S Presidency (July 2018 – June 2019), the FATF today also adopted changes to its methodology that specify how countries and covered entities will be assessed for their compliance with the relevant recommendations. These changes apply immediately to all future assessments as well as follow-up reports for countries that have already undergone an assessment. The FATF also issued a public statement clarifying that the FATF standards apply to “stablecoins” and their service providers. The FATF is actively monitoring emerging digital assets and agreed to examine their characteristics and risks, and consider further clarifications on how the FATF standards apply to global “stablecoins” and their service providers.

FATF Updates Report on ISIL and Al-Qaeda
To assist FATF members and the FATF global network in combating ISIL and Al-Qaeda financing, the FATF also adopted its eleventh non-public update on the financing of ISIL/Daesh, Al-Qaeda and affiliate groups. This report details the evolving financial relationship between remaining Daesh leadership in Iraq and Syria and its affiliate groups, as well as how Daesh continues to exploit poorly supervised and unregistered money transmitters to move funds to finance its terrorism around the world.

Identifying Countries with Strategic AML/CFT Deficiencies
The FATF also called on all countries to apply countermeasures on North Korea due to the ongoing money laundering, terrorist financing, and weapons of mass destruction proliferation financing risks to the international financial system. In addition, the Plenary identified countries that are working with the FATF to implement an Action Plan and strengthen their domestic frameworks. FinCEN will release an advisory updating financial institutions to the FATF list of jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies.

Adoption of Mutual Evaluation Reports of Russia and Turkey
The Mutual Evaluation Reports of Russia and Turkey were also adopted and will be published on the FATF website by the end of the year, representing the culmination of a peer review by FATF members to assess both jurisdictions’ AML/CFT and counter-proliferation financing legal frameworks as well as the measures in place to implement these frameworks effectively.

Outcomes of the FATF Plenary, 16-18 October 2019.

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  Treasury Launches the Counter-Hizballah International Partnership (CHIP) to Thwart Illicit Financial Activity

WASHINGTON.- This week the Treasury Department convened the first meeting of the Counter-Hizballah International Partnership (CHIP) to build multilateral cooperation for targeting Hizballah’s global financial networks. Over 30 countries representing the Middle East, the Western Hemisphere, Europe, Asia, and Africa participated in this event, which was held on the sidelines of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Fall Meetings.

“Hizballah leverages a network of financiers and supporters around the world to fund its violent agenda. The CHIP unites the international community in an aggressive campaign to confront Hizballah’s evolving schemes to better protect the international financial system from exploitation,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

“The CHIP is an important initiative to share information and build capacity among our partners to more effectively leverage all available financial tools against Hizballah.”

At the meeting, the United States condemned Hizballah’s abuse of the international financial system and identified impact-oriented steps countries should take to stem this abuse, including information sharing information among financial intelligence units, strengthening terrorism finance risk assessments, developing targeted financial sanctions regimes, and prosecuting terrorists and their financial facilitators.

Participating countries noted the importance of raising Hizballah in international fora to build momentum and ensure coordination of efforts. The next steps for meeting participants will be to send technical experts to the Law Enforcement Coordination Group (LECG), which will next convene December 17-18 in The Hague, Netherlands.

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Treasury Designates Turkish Ministries and Senior Officials in Response to Military Action in Syria

WASHINGTON.- Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action against two ministries and three senior Turkish Government officials in response to Turkey’s military operations in Syria.

The Turkish Government’s actions are endangering innocent civilians, and destabilizing the region, including undermining the campaign to defeat ISIS. The Government of Turkey’s Ministry of National Defence and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, as well as the Minister of National Defence, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and the Minister of the Interior are blocked as a result of today’s action.

The designation of these ministries and officials is a result of the Turkish Government’s actions that further deteriorate peace, security, and stability of the region. We are prepared to impose additional sanctions on Government of Turkey officials and entities, as necessary.

“The United States is holding the Turkish Government accountable for escalating violence by Turkish forces, endangering innocent civilians, and destabilizing the region,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with persons designated today may themselves be exposed to designation. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates any significant financial transactions for or on behalf of the persons designated today could be subject to U.S. correspondent or payable through account sanctions.

Today’s actions are not intended to affect or disrupt the operation of international humanitarian NGOs or the United Nations in Turkey in rendering humanitarian assistance to Syrian communities in need.

OFAC is prepared to issue authorizations, such as general or specific licenses, as appropriate, to ensure that today’s action does not disrupt Turkey’s ability to meet its energy needs.

Additionally, OFAC issued three General Licenses simultaneously with today’s Executive Order. General License 1 authorizes the conduct of the official business of the United States Government by employees, grantees, or contractors otherwise prohibited by the order. General License 2 authorizes a 30 day wind down period for all transactions and activities that are ordinarily incident and necessary to the wind down operations, contracts, or other agreements involving the Ministries of National Defence or Energy and Natural Resources of the Government of Turkey. General License 3 authorizes official activities of the United Nations involving the Ministry of National Defence or the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of the Government of Turkey.

Designation Bases and Authorities

Republic of Turkey Ministry of National Defence is being designated pursuant to E.O. of October 14, 2019, for being a subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of the Government of Turkey.

Republic of Turkey Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources is being designated pursuant to E.O. of October 14, 2019, for being a subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of the Government of Turkey.

Hulusi Akar, the Minister of National Defence of the Republic of Turkey, is being designated pursuant to E.O. of October 14, 2019, for being a current or former official of the Government of Turkey.

Suleyman Soylu, the Minister of Interior of the Republic of Turkey, is being designated pursuant to E.O. of October 14, 2019, for being a current or former official of the Government of Turkey.

Fatih Donmez, the Minister of Energy of the Republic of Turkey, is being designated pursuant to E.O. of October 14, 2019, for being a current or former official of the Government of Turkey.

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these persons, and of any other persons blocked by operation of law, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. E.O. October 14, 2019, and OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interest in property of blocked persons.

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