France calls for new global coalition of ‘goodwill powers’

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during an interview at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass on Sept. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)
Updated 30 September 2018

France calls for new global coalition of ‘goodwill powers’

  • French FM Jean-Yves Le Drian laments that some countries now resort to disinformation and intimidation to pursue their own interests
  • Le Drien says the US is destroying the "fundamentals of multilateralism” through its approach to the UN, trade deals and other international agreements

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts: France’s leaders proposed a new alliance of “goodwill powers” on Friday in an attempt to revive the type of global diplomacy that they say is being jeopardized by the United States, Russia and other countries that favor unilateralism over cooperation.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced the plan during a speech at Harvard University, suggesting that Europe should align itself with countries like India, Australia, Mexico and other “powerful democracies” that share a commitment to multilateralism.
His speech described an erosion of the brand of diplomacy that brought nations together following World War II and led to the creation of the United Nations, saying some countries now resort to disinformation and intimidation to pursue their own interests.
Speaking through an interpreter, he told The Associated Press that he believes the United States “methodically and regularly jeopardizes the fundamentals of multilateralism” through its approach to the UN, trade deals and other international agreements.
“Do we have to suffer that situation without doing anything, without taking any kind of initiative? I think our point of view is that we don’t,” he said. “In these uncertain times, it is important that we speak up.”
Although it’s still little more than an idea, the coalition would intend to go on with or without the United States. Still, the minister denied any attempt to isolate America, saying it would be embraced and could play a strong role if it chooses to join.
“We don’t want to create any opposition. Our objective is to revive multilateralism, which has been the way of doing things since the end of World War II,” he said. “It’s not against anybody, but we see it as a real issue.”
The proposal builds on French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent calls for greater global cooperation, including a Tuesday speech at the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Macron decried nationalism and self-interest in his speech, which followed shortly after US President Donald Trump gave his own address defending an America-first policy and saying he rejects “the ideology of globalism” in favor of “the doctrine of patriotism.”
At Harvard, Le Drian made few direct references to Trump but cited behavior by the United States and Russia as two major factors in his decision to pursue a new alliance.
He criticized the US for backing out on deals including a 2015 accord meant to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and he lamented that Russia and other nations have paralyzed the UN Security Council by invoking their veto power to block action.
But he said there are plenty of other nations that would make good allies for France and its neighbors in Europe as they confront global problems including cybersecurity, immigration, climate change and international crises in Syria and Libya.
Le Drian listed India, Australia, Japan, Canada and Mexico as possible allies that are committed to global cooperation. He issued a call “to create with them a collective action to initiate and suggest solutions.” Still, he said discussions are just beginning, and it’s too soon to know which countries may sign on.
“Goodwill is just goodwill. It’s open to anybody,” he told the AP. “It’s something that is being discussed as a way of getting out of the quagmire we’re finding ourselves in.”

 


Philippines cracks down on clandestine COVID-19 clinics

Updated 29 May 2020

Philippines cracks down on clandestine COVID-19 clinics

  • Intelligence, immigration officials investigating illegal facilities that catered mostly to foreigners

MANILA: The Philippines has intensified its crackdown on uncertified medical facilities offering treatment to people, particularly foreigners, with COVID-19 symptoms.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to help the Philippine National Police (PNP) track down foreign nationals behind the illegal clinics.
“It seems that clandestine medical clinics catering mostly to foreign nationals have sprouted and have been operating without proper authority,” Guevarra told reporters.
He said the facilities could have compromised the health of those who had undergone treatment.
“I’ll therefore ask the NBI and the BI to help the police in locating other similar underground clinics and the people running them, and if warranted, to file the appropriate charges against them,” he added.
Guevarra issued the order following a raid on Tuesday on an illegal clinic catering to Chinese patients in Makati City. Arrested in the operation were Chinese nationals Dr. David Lai, 49, and Liao Bruce, 41.
The clinic was reportedly operating without a permit, while the arrested did not have a license to practice medicine in the country.
Seized from the site were swab sticks, vials, syringes and boxes of medicine with Chinese labels — believed to be unregistered with the Food and Drug Administration.
Last week, law enforcers also swooped on a makeshift hospital for Chinese patients in the Fontana Leisure Park in Clark, Pampanga province.
The raid came after police received information that a COVID-19 patient was “undergoing medical attention” in a Fontana villa.
Arrested during the raid were Chinese nationals Liu Wei, who reportedly supervised the facility, and Hu Shiling, allegedly a pharmacist. Both were released on the same day without charge.
Immigration officials on Thursday said the duo had been placed on their watch list to prevent them from leaving the country while an investigation is underway.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said intelligence operatives will trace four of the patients, and are looking into the case of the Chinese nationals arrested in Makati.
“I’ve instructed our intelligence division to investigate if these alleged Chinese doctors are legally staying in the country,” he said.
“Should we find they violated our immigration laws, they’ll be charged with deportation cases before our law and investigation division,” he added.
“Even if no criminal charges were filed against them, they can be charged for immigration law violations if we can establish that they violated the conditions of their stay in the country.”
If criminal charges are filed, however, the BI will only deport them after their cases have been resolved or they have served their sentences, if convicted.
Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros called for the “immediate deportation and blacklisting” of the Chinese nationals because of their “blatant disregard of our laws.”
She added that while the Philippines is working hard to protect its people from the virus, “these criminals freely roam and pose a danger to public health.”