New US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper Presents Credentials in Hanoi

 

 

 

USG to Open an Embassy in Honiara, Solomon Islands — Send Bids Now?

 

 

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Career Diplomat Mary Kay Carlson to be US Ambassador to the Philippines

 

Photo of the Day: @StateDept’s First Evacuation Flight Out of Wuhan, PRC, Jan. 29, 2020

 

Via State/DS

DSS regional security office team helps process and board 195 Americans and other passengers for the first evacuation flight out of Wuhan, PRC, Jan. 29, 2020. (U.S. Department of State photo)
In January 2020, as the new and highly infectious coronavirus began spreading through People’s Republic of China (PRC), the local government unexpectedly closed the airport, stopped public trans- portation, and closed the roadways. U.S. diplomats and other personnel posted at the U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan were caught in the lockdown, worried about potential inability to access medical care and support services, and fearful they might not be able to leave Wuhan. DSS revised its evacuation plan quickly to help evacuate Americans on the first airlift out of Wuhan. This laid the groundwork for four additional evacuation flights that brought 600 Americans home by the end of February 2020.

Read more at: https://www.state.gov/the-untold-coronavirus-story.

New U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel Arrives in Tokyo

 

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US Embassy Malaysia: Extradition to U.S. For Smuggling Scheme Involving 1500 Protected Turtles

 

Via USDOJ: Foreign National Sentenced for Money Laundering Funds to Promote Turtle Trafficking

A Chinese citizen was sentenced today to 38 months in prison and one year of supervised release on a federal money laundering conviction.

Kang Juntao, 25, of Hangzhou City, China, had previously pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Camden, New Jersey, to financing a nationwide ring of individuals who smuggled at least 1,500 protected turtles, valued at more than $2,250,000, from the United States to Hong Kong. The court also ordered Kang to pay a $10,000 fine, equaling the total assets he held in the United States.

From at least June 12, 2017, to Dec. 3, 2018, Kang recruited a network of poachers, shippers and middlemen to illegally obtain and export turtles. He sent money through U.S. banks, including one in New Jersey, to pay for the turtles and their shipments. He arranged for the turtles to be sold illegally in the Chinese pet market for thousands of dollars each.

Kang had never entered the United States, but the U.S. money laundering statute provides jurisdiction when someone outside of the country passes more than $10,000 through the U.S. financial system to promote specified unlawful activities, such as smuggling wildlife.

In furtherance of the United States’ request for provisional arrest with a view to extradition, the Royal Malaysia Police arrested Kang when he traveled to Kuala Lumpur on Jan. 23, 2019. Kang was extradited to the United States to stand trial in the District of New Jersey in December 2020 pursuant to the extradition treaty between the United States and Malaysian governments.

“The Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute those who finance and profit from illegal wildlife trafficking, even if they do so from abroad,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

“The extradition of a foreign national who had never set foot on American soil for financing a turtle-trafficking ring in the U.S. sends an important message: those who exploit imperiled wildlife for profit will be brought to justice,” said Assistant Director Edward Grace for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. “This investigation illustrates the global reach of the Service’s Office of Law Enforcement made possible by close coordination with partners, including the government of Malaysia, and our resolve to stop international wildlife trafficking from source to consumer.”

The United States, Malaysia, China and approximately 181 other countries are signatories to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES is an international treaty that restricts trade in species that may be threatened with extinction.

Kang trafficked in five turtle species protected by the treaty. The eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina), the Florida box turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri) and the Gulf Coast box turtle (Terrapene carolina major) are subspecies of the common box turtle (Terrapene carolina) and have been listed in CITES since 1995. The spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) is a semi-aquatic turtle listed in CITES as of 2013. The wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) has been protected under CITES since 1992. The turtles are worth on average between $650 to $2,500 each in the Asian market. Female turtles with rare markings have been sold for as much as $20,000.

Kang sent money via PayPal, credit cards or bank transfers to the United States to purchase turtles from sellers advertising on social media or reptile trade websites. These suppliers then shipped the turtles to middlemen across five different states. The middlemen were typically Chinese citizens who entered the country on student visas. Kang paid and instructed these intermediaries to repackage the turtles in boxes with false labels for clandestine shipment to Hong Kong. The turtles were inhumanely bound with duct tape and placed in socks so as not to alert customs authorities. Neither Kang nor his associates declared the turtles to U.S. or Chinese customs or obtained the required CITES permits.

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Career Diplomat Marc Knapper Sworn-In as U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam

 

 

Snapshot: Workforce Diversity at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (2020)

 

Via State/OIG:

(U) EAP acknowledged the challenge of creating a diverse workforce, citing impediments such as languages that require 2 years of study and the expectation for officers to spend much of their career in the bureau and region. To address the underrepresentation in some categories, EAP established a Diversity and Inclusion Council in January 2020 and created a Senior Advisor for Diversity and Inclusion to recruit both Foreign Service bidders and Civil Service employees. In addition, the PDAS encouraged participation in the Diversity and Inclusion Council and sought to find diverse candidates to fill vacancies. The bureau also issued newsletters and cables to the field on its diversity efforts, provided diversity statistics including gender on bidding and assignments to the Department,15 and conducted outreach to Department affinity groups. EAP officials stated they would continue their efforts to increase diversity in the bureau.

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Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Sworn-in as U.S. Ambassador to Japan

 

Presentation of Credentials: US Ambassador to Singapore Jonathan Kaplan

 

 

 

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