Current Events

Let the Blame Game Begin…

Newsmax wrote on December 30:

“President Obama has acknowledged that the United States had early signals that a terrorist attack was being plotted in Yemen and failed to take adequate steps to prevent it. According to a page one story in the New York Times, two federal officials told the paper that U.S. intelligence was aware that a Nigerian Muslim was preparing an attack, yet officials did nothing to give warning of such an attack…”

It was predictable that Republicans would seize on the opportunity, accusing the Obama administration of weakness on security measures. However, as the Financial Times warned on December 29, such criticism might very well backfire:

“Republicans have seized on the Christmas day attempted terrorist attack as evidence that Democrats are weak on national security issues, as they seek to bolster their credentials ahead of next year’s congressional elections. As the Obama administration’s investigation into how a 23-year-old Nigerian was able to carry explosives on to a US-bound aircraft gathers pace, a slew of Republicans have criticised everything from the timing of the president’s first public comments to his plans to close the Guantánamo Bay prison camp…

“Barack Obama… answered such critics on Tuesday with a surprisingly blunt admission that ‘human and systemic failures’ were to blame… Republicans had been emboldened by the administration’s faltering response to the attempted attack. Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, on Sunday said ‘the system worked’ but later performed a U-turn, saying that it did not work and ‘no one is happy with that’, comments that were reinforced by Mr Obama on Tuesday…

“Americans traditionally perceive Republicans to be strong on national security issues. But the party’s tactics in this case could backfire. ‘If this line of attack continues, it is going to reveal problems not just with the Obama administration but with the homeland security system, a system that was put in place by President [George W.] Bush,’ said Julian Zelizer, a professor at Princeton University.

“‘If Republicans want hearings into what happened, it could very well raise questions about Bush-era failures and that would be politically dangerous.’ Some Democrats are already pointing to Republican obstructionism on national security matters. More than 100 Republicans in the House voted against the Department of Homeland Security’s 2010 appropriation bill funding airport security measures, including explosives detection systems.”

New “Security” Measures for Airline Passengers

The Associated Press reported on December 26:

“Some airlines were telling passengers on Saturday that new government security regulations prohibit them from leaving their seats beginning an hour before landing (including going to a restroom). The regulations are a response to a suspected terrorism incident on Christmas Day. Air Canada said… that during the final hour of flight passengers must remain seated. They won’t be allowed access to carryon baggage or to have any items on their laps.

“Flight attendants on some domestic flights are informing passengers of similar rules. Passengers on a flight from New York to Tampa Saturday morning were also told they must remain in their seats and couldn’t have items in their laps, including laptops and pillows…

“Air Canada said it was limiting passengers to one carryon bag in response to a request from the U.S. and Canadian governments. The airline advised U.S.-bound passengers to restrict their carryon item to ‘the absolute minimum’ or to not carry any bag on board at all. ‘Carriage of any carryon item will result in lengthy security delays for the customer,’ the airline said.”

Disruptive Air Travel

The Telegraph wrote on December 27:

“Tens of thousands of people flying to the US for the New Year break have been forced to endure delays of up to three hours after strict new security rules were imposed overnight in the wake of the attempted terrorist attack in Detroit.

“… the most stringent restrictions came as aircraft entered US airspace, with passengers confined to their seats for the last hour of their flight, banned from having access to books, newspapers or even blankets or pillows. Passengers were warned to expect the restrictions to remain in place ‘indefinitely’.

“With pilots ordered to switch off ‘moving maps’ throughout the flight in an effort to conceal the exact locations of their aircraft from potential terrorists, passengers on some Virgin flights on Boxing Day were warned to buy books as in-flight films and other entertainment systems were also being disabled for the entire journey…

“Meanwhile travellers arriving at British airports from the US told a similar story of delays and restrictions… In Paris passengers were told to check all hand baggage into the hold with anything essential for the flight placed into clear plastic bags usually reserved for liquids.

“Meanwhile several Asian airlines disabled cabin telephones or internet connections on flights to the US… Information was kept deliberately vague prompting confusion among passengers about what was allowed… While check-in and security queues were unaffected at British airports, there were long delays in departure areas as airlines were forced to impose a second set of checks at flight gates.

“All passengers were subjected to body searches and baggage checks as they boarded flights, holding departures up by an average of one hour. At Heathrow some departures were delayed by up to three hours while at Manchester New York flights were two hours late. With most flights to the US at least 90 per cent full over the holiday period, the numbers affected could reach almost 30,000 per day this week. Some of the delayed passengers arriving from the United States missed their connecting flights.”

Discouraged Business Fliers?

The Associated Press wrote on December 28:

“New security restrictions… will make air travel more burdensome and could discourage some business fliers, key customers for the airlines… business travelers may think twice before flying if stepped-up security means spending hours at the airport. That’s troubling to the airlines, because business travelers tend to fly frequently and pay higher fares.

“Alarmed by the prospect of losing their best customers, airlines are already asking federal officials to make any new procedures palatable to passengers… Travelers on incoming international flights said that during the final hour, attendants removed blankets, banned opening overhead bins, and told passengers to stay in their seats with their hands in plain sight…

“Jack Riepe, a spokesman for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives… said corporate travel managers want the government to explain how Friday’s suspect reached Detroit even though he was on a watch list maintained by counterterrorism experts. A government official said the suspect’s father raised concerns about him to U.S. officials several weeks ago, but the father’s information about his son’s possible ties to fundamentalist Islamic groups was too vague to act upon.”

So we’d rather (re-)act now by imposing ridiculous restrictions on all air travelers, threatening the very survival of some airline companies. We are seemingly reaching more and more the point of the biblical warning that there will not be any more soundness in the land (or in the air), compare Isaiah 1:6. But perhaps, there is still a little bit left today, considering the next two articles.

Don’t Overreact!

Deutsche Welle reported on December 28:

“Wolfgang Bosbach, the chairman of the parliamentary Internal Affairs Committee told the Berliner Zeitung daily on Monday that the recent attempt to blow up a Northwest/KLM flight from Amsterdam to Detroit should not result in the introduction of new security procedures at German airports… Bosbach said, however, that European Union plans to relax certain restrictions, such as on bringing liquids onto aircraft, should probably be put on hold…

“A key opposition figure, the Green Party’s Hans-Christian Stroebele, echoed Bosbach’s assessment. He said that last week’s attempted attack was made possible by a failure to correctly assess existing intelligence, not a lack of security… The head of a German police union, Rainer Wendt, also said it would be a mistake to adopt new, more intrusive search methods like the much-debated full-body or ‘nude’ scanner.”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 29:

“German media commentators say the new measures smack of hysteria, and will do nothing to improve security because they can easily be circumvented by a determined terrorist. For example, if toilets are out of bounds in the last hour, an attacker could still assemble a bomb there earlier in the flight. The solution, German editorials say, is to improve security checks at airports rather than treating all passengers as potential terrorists once they’re on board.”

President Obama’s Missed Opportunities

The Financial Times wrote on December 27:

“Many Americans – conservatives, liberals and centrists – are dismayed by Barack Obama’s first year. Republicans call Mr Obama a tax and spend liberal. Progressives say he surrendered to corporate interests, and his foreign policy is a continuation of George W. Bush by other means. Independents feel let down because Mr Obama said he would bridge the partisan divide and unite the country. Except for uniting left and right in disappointment, he failed…

“Foreign policy saw the biggest gap between expectations and any real likelihood of success. Foreigners and Americans naively thought the world would submit to Mr Obama’s charm. It did not. Yes, he brought US diplomacy back from the dead – but diplomacy is a means to an end, not an end in itself… Afghanistan underlines the point… Mr Obama took too long to make up his mind, and muddled the message by talking of an early withdrawal…

“Just as those earlier hopes were exaggerated, so now is much of the criticism. The sense of betrayal on the left, in particular, is just bewildering. Progressives want the troops brought home, the security state dismantled, capitalism defanged, the profit motive dethroned, the banks nationalised, private health insurance abolished, and energy policy turned over to Greenpeace. Anything less is just another sell-out. Who on earth did these people think they were electing?

“Republican complaints have a bit more justification. Having cast himself as a fiscal moderate, the president laid out a first budget that permanently raises the ratio of US public spending to gross domestic product, without disclosing the tax increases that will be needed to pay for it. In announcing that programme, Mr Obama did reveal himself more clearly than before as a centre-left Democrat. To be fair, though, in the campaign he never claimed otherwise. The point is, there was wishful thinking to his right, as well as to his left.

“Independents have much the most reason to be disappointed. They see – and are right to – a broken political system. Congress is polarised to its roots. The country’s wide political centre is largely unrepresented on Capitol Hill. Committed Democrats and Republicans can hardly bear to be in the same room, let alone talk to each other. Mr Obama promised to strive for consensus…

“In his first year, he rarely even tried. He simply chose not to exercise this kind of leadership. To be sure, moderate Republicans (an endangered breed) offered no encouragement, content to oppose for opposition’s sake. But Mr Obama made no stand against this. Instead he went with the flow, deferring to the implacably partisan Democratic majorities. This disengagement, this reluctance to lead, is the real disappointment of Mr Obama’s first year.”

The lack of U.S. leadership is becoming increasingly apparent around the world–a power vacuum which will be filled soon, as the following articles postulate.

Sarkozy Cool on Relationship With Obama

The Financial Times wrote on December 27:

“Nicolas Sarkozy, the most pro-American president of France for half a century, has gone cold on Barack Obama, the most popular American leader in France in generations. A year ago Mr Sarkozy was engaged in a tussle among European leaders anxious to be the first to secure a meeting with the freshly elected Mr Obama. Mr Sarkozy described Mr Obama as ‘my friend’ after meeting him just once as a senator.

“But the French president has since clashed with his US counterpart on a series of issues, raising the question of whether Mr Sarkozy is reverting to the more Gaullist, anti-American posture of his predecessor, Jacques Chirac…

“Like his predecessor, Mr Sarkozy plays up differences with the US for domestic purposes. But there is a crucial difference. Whereas Mr Chirac’s stance towards the US was determined by suspicion of US power, current French frustration is aimed at Washington’s hesitancy or even weakness.”

This article and the following ones show that the relationship between the USA and Europe is not improving, and that due to the lack of U.S. leadership, Europe is determined to fill the vacuum.

Germany and USA Continue Disagreements on Substance

Deutsche Welle reported on December 28:

“The good personal chemistry between president [Obama] and chancellor [Merkel] and Obama’s immense international popularity has smoothed over some quite profound differences on major topics…

“Berlin has all but ruled out deploying troops to the more dangerous southern part of [Afghanistan] and in fact is very reluctant to significantly increase its military contingent at all. Despite Obama’s hope for a stronger German role in Afghanistan, the new center-right government’s position is largely unchanged from that of [Germany’s] grand coalition during the presidency of George W. Bush…

“While Germany and the US agree on the broad goal of mitigating the effects of the worst recession since the 1930s and reforming the global financial system, Berlin and Washington are not on the same page when it comes to how this can be accomplished. The German government contends that the goal of stimulating the economy has to be balanced against fiscal responsibility. For the US administration however, restarting the economy clearly trumps concerns about fiscal stability…

“The new US administration by acknowledging the problem and by vowing to take an active role in combating climate change reversed the stance of Bush presidency – at least in theory. But as observers in Germany have had to learn against the backdrop of the failed negotiations at the Copenhagen climate conference, even an American president who supports European efforts to curb global warming cannot by himself convince a reluctant Congress to sign on to an international climate change treaty…

“When push comes to shove, when words need to be translated into action the current leaderships in the US and Germany have not behaved very differently to those under the previous administrations. That is true not just on Afghanistan, the financial crisis and climate change, but also on other issues such as how to deal with the Guantanamo prisoners.”

The relationship between the USA and Europe will steadily deteriorate, according to the clear prophecies of the Bible.

“Europe (under Germany) Must Lead”

On December 28, 2009, Der Spiegel published a revealing interview with German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen. As the magazine wrote, Mr. Röttgen talked about “the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit, why neither China nor the US can take the lead in the fight against global warming and Germany’s role in the new world order.” We are bringing you the following excerpts from his statements:

“First and foremost, the result [in Copenhagen] is a great disappointment… There is no disguising the fact that the outcome does not meet our criteria for success, and it is miles away from what we consider to be urgently necessary…

“Emerging economies, led by China, were not willing to commit themselves to CO2 reduction targets as a part of their foreign policy or to join the common political will. With the United States, the problems were domestic in nature. The political conditions are lacking there for the country to be part of a global framework. Both countries… seem to consider national politics to be more important…

“A chapter has been closed in Copenhagen, the well-intended attempt at harmony. Now the wrestling will begin for positions of power, but no fixed structure has yet taken hold. At the moment we are experiencing a lack of structure, a lack of results and an inability to act, triggered mainly by the United States which, in the case of climate protection, as in capital markets, is no longer capable of leading. This has created a power vacuum. And when there is a power vacuum, there are others who would like to step in…

“The US as leader is part of the political concept of the West. But the US hasn’t led — instead it reached a deal with China that there wouldn’t be any leadership… I see an erosion of their leadership role. Barack Obama and Wen Jiabao have agreed to the lowest common denominator: China doesn’t want to lead, and the US cannot lead. The major blockade at the summit grew out of an unfortunate combination of weak leadership on the part of the Americans and Chinese power to impede progress…

“Europe is not the loser because it presented itself as a unified bloc at the summit, with clear goals and a solid strategy. That was one of the few really positive experiences in Copenhagen and vitally important to our role in this new world order. We have shown what Europe’s role could be… I do not believe there is a conscious American-Chinese alliance. It is more a case of two forms of weakness coming together… The government in Beijing, of course, takes advantage of the fact that the US and Europe do not have a common position…

“Germany alone cannot determine anything in global politics — the only thing that counts there is European unity. And we worked to unite the Europeans in Copenhagen… It is German policy to take a leading role in environmental technology…”

Of course, the concept that carbon dioxide is responsible for climate change is by no means undisputed, as the next article shows. However, from a biblical perspective, the discussion on climate change and its political consequences may contribute to the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, clearly revealing that the influence of the USA on virtually every aspect of life will continue to diminish worldwide, while the United States of Europe under German leadership will become the most powerful bloc in the world–including on economic, political and military issues.

Will the Earth Become Cooler Rather than Warmer?

Newsmax wrote on December 28:

“A university professor challenges the widely held notion that carbon dioxide is responsible for climate change — and says the Earth will continue to cool for the next half-century. Rather than carbon dioxide, cosmic rays and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) — already implicated in depleting the Earth’s ozone layer — are to blame for changes in the global climate, according to a paper by Qing-Bin Lu, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Waterloo in Canada…

“Lu’s peer-reviewed paper, published in the prestigious journal Physics Reports, states: ‘My findings do not agree with the climate models that conventionally thought that greenhouse gases, mainly CO2, are the major culprits for the global warming seen in the late 20th century. Instead, the observed data show that CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays most likely caused both the Antarctic ozone hole and global warming. These findings are totally unexpected and striking, as I was focused on studying the mechanism for the formation of the ozone hole, rather than global warming.’

“The total amount of CFCs decreased around 2000, Lu said, and ‘correspondingly, the global surface temperature has also dropped. In striking contrast, the CO2 level has kept rising since 1850 and now is at its largest growth rate.’ Lu found that while there was global warming from 1950 to 2000, there has been global cooling since 2002, and his research indicates that the cooling trend will continue for the next 50 years.”

War in Middle East Continues–With No End in Sight

Deutsche Welle reported on December 27:

“The year began in the Middle East with war and ended without peace. New leaders arrived with optimistic plans for a resolution to the Israel-Palestinian crisis but little was achieved by the year’s end…

“Any hopes of a lasting peace coming from the Gaza war would be dashed, the international community would increasingly isolate Israel, a UN report by South Africa’s Richard Goldstone would accuse both Israel and Hamas of war crimes and threaten to bring both sides before the International Criminal Court…

“Between Obama’s inauguration and his speech in Cairo, Israel had taken a radical swing to the right. Many observers believed that the election victory for Benjamin Netanyahu of the hard-line Likud party was a direct reaction to the rise of Hamas, the continued threat of rocket attacks from Gaza and the increasing anti-Israel rhetoric from a belligerent, nuclear ambitious Iran…

“Before peace talks could resume, President Mahmoud Abbas demanded that Israel should endorse a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict [and] stop all Israeli construction in the occupied West Bank… Netanyahu’s ban on construction fell far short of the full freeze demanded by the Palestinians…

“The apparent inability of the Obama administration to get Israel to agree to its first condition for resuming peace talks angered the Arab world and heaped more pressure on a US president who had promised much when he first came to office… The Arab world is… very disappointed with Obama because the Arabs really thought that this president would be able to put pressure on Israel, not only on the settlement issue but in the wider context of finding a solution to the Middle East conflict…”

“USA Should Attack Iran”

The New York Times wrote on December 23:

“If Iran acquired a nuclear arsenal, the risks would simply be too great that it could become a neighborhood bully or provide terrorists with the ultimate weapon, an atomic bomb. As for knocking out its nuclear plants, admittedly, aerial bombing might not work. Some Iranian facilities are buried too deeply to destroy from the air. There may also be sites that American intelligence is unaware of. And military action could backfire in various ways, including by undermining Iran’s political opposition, accelerating the bomb program or provoking retaliation against American forces and allies in the region.

“But history suggests that military strikes could work… Iran’s atomic sites might need to be bombed more than once to persuade Tehran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons. As for the risk of military strikes undermining Iran’s opposition, history suggests that the effect would be temporary… Yes, Iran could retaliate by aiding America’s opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it does that anyway…

“Incentives and sanctions will not work, but air strikes could degrade and deter Iran’s bomb program at relatively little cost or risk, and therefore are worth a try. They should be precision attacks, aimed only at nuclear facilities, to remind Iran of the many other valuable sites that could be bombed if it were foolish enough to retaliate.

“The final question is, who should launch the air strikes? Israel has shown an eagerness to do so if Iran does not stop enriching uranium, and some hawks in Washington favor letting Israel do the dirty work to avoid fueling anti-Americanism in the Islamic world. But there are three compelling reasons that the United States itself should carry out the bombings.

“First, the Pentagon’s weapons are better than Israel’s at destroying buried facilities. Second, unlike Israel’s relatively small air force, the United States military can discourage Iranian retaliation by threatening to expand the bombing campaign… Finally, because the American military has global reach, air strikes against Iran would be a strong warning to other would-be proliferators…

“We have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better.”

Europe Warns and Condemns Iran’s Leadership

Deutsche Welle reported on December 28:

“In a strong statement to the press on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the actions of Iran’s state security services ‘unacceptable.’… At least eight people were killed in street clashes in Tehran when police and Basij militia members confronted protest marchers who were attempting to gather at a number of central squares. Sunday’s protests took place on Ashura, a Shiite Islamic holy day devoted to honoring martyrs, often through street marches… According to opposition sources, security forces used tear gas and live ammunition to try to get the marchers to disperse.

“German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle criticized Iran’s tactics as ‘brutal,’ and said that the international community ‘would be watching, not looking away.’ A spokesman for the French foreign ministry, Bernard Valero, said his country again expressed ‘deep concern,’ and ‘condemns the arbitrary arrests and violence carried out against ordinary protesters.’… The Italian foreign ministry, meanwhile, warned the Islamic republic that ‘safeguarding human lives is a fundamental value which must be defended everywhere and in every circumstance.'”

It is becoming more and more plausible that we will soon see an outright war in the Middle East, involving a military attack on Iran. This attack might be led by Israel with or without American support; and it will also be interesting to see how powerful players such as Europe and Russia will react to such military action. The Bible shows that ultimately, Europe will turn against the USA and Israel; and that it will intervene militarily in the Middle East in an effort to bring peace to that region.

How Russia Justifies Its Nuclear Policies

The Russian pro-government paper, Pravda, wrote the following on December 24:

“Russia now announced its right to use nuclear weapons not only in case of aggression against itself, but also as a ‘response to a threat of using (or usage) against itself and (or) its allies of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, as well as a response to the aggression with regular weapons in the situations critical for the Russian Federation.’

“The similar document signed by the United States does not have this provision. The US does not consider itself entitled to use nuclear weapons as a response to a ‘threat’… Russia does not have resources for aggression. Even Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based defense analyst said… ‘The weaker the army, the more important nuclear weapons are. We don’t have anything left besides our nuclear weapons. We have no guarantees that the West would not interfere with our wars, like it happened with Georgia, therefore, we do need nuclear restraining…’

“Nuclear weapons remain the main, and maybe, the only defense for Russia. It would be silly to walk around the area filled with stray dogs without an electroshock or at least a good stick.”

Russia Justifies Its Military Occupation of Georgia

The Pravda wrote on December 23:

“As though it was any of their business, six US senators have taken it upon themselves to warn France against the planned sale of a warship to Russia… The senators were ‘worried’ and underlined a Russian Navy commander’s recent statement that the ship would have allowed Russian forces battling Georgia’s military in August 2008 to land troops ashore in 40 minutes, against the 26 hours it took them to do so in last year’s war.

“Well that’s good, perhaps more lives would have been saved. But these saber rattling, arrogant Americans are still bound and determined to protect the criminal behavior of their puppet in Georgia. Of course their words make them nothing less than hypocrites of the worst kind, and accessories to the war crimes of Georgia and Saakashvili.

“The truth is not in them, they either knowingly or ignorantly promote the lie that the war was Russia’s fault and of course Russia has no right to save the lives of citizens. Again, how dare they!… Senator Lugar and other neo-con Senators called on President Obama to increase military supplies to Georgia. I am sure if this were 1939, they would also call on the President to increase military supplies to Nazi Germany.”

Interestingly, the Pravda conveniently forgets to mention the friendship pact between Russia’s war criminal, Josef Stalin, and Germany’s war criminal, Adolf Hitler. There will not be a war between Russia and the United States, prior to Christ’s return. But a worldwide war WILL occur very soon. However, the respective allies and enemies will be quite different from what many may expect. For more information, please read our free booklets, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

Japan Moves Closer to India, While Moving Further Away from the USA

India’s national newspaper, The Hindu, wrote the following on December 26:

“Apart from improving their coordination on security issues, India and Japan will also consolidate their economic ties… Japanese investment in India [has] exceeded its investment in China for the first time in 2008-09… Without India, Japan cannot grow in [the] future.”

Times on Line added on December 26:

“Yukio Hatoyama, the new Japanese Prime Minister, has stunned a nation already mired in huge public debt by unveiling the country’s biggest ever postwar budget: a 92.3 trillion yen (£630 billion) spending spree… The new budget will require additional debt issuance of Y44.3 trillion…

“Four months on from [his election] victory and Mr Hatoyama has spent more than any of his predecessors and has yet to make any serious impact on the wider effort of repairing Japan’s shattered economy… Mr Hatoyama has also been hurt personally by the arrest of a former aide this week amid a money scandal that bore all the hallmarks of the politics of ‘old Japan’… Prosecutors in Tokyo accused Keiji Katsuba, 59, of falsifying funding reports beginning in 2000 and listing dead people as donors.

“Political analysts said that the episode would not be crippling to Mr Hatoyama… but it adds to pressures that already include a weakened domestic economy and strained relations with the United States…”

The Bible clearly shows that in these last days, many nations in the Far East, including Japan, India, China and Russia, will align and cooperate, even militarily, and an outright war will see a military confrontation between these nations and the emerging United States of Europe.

Britain Powerless?

AFP wrote on December 30:

“Shaikh, a 53-year-old father-of-three whom supporters say was mentally ill, was executed on Tuesday [in China] for drug smuggling despite extensive British ministerial lobbying that continued almost up until his death. But in a letter to the Guardian newspaper, his cousins Amina and Ridwan Shaikh lamented the lack of real British influence in the case.

“‘This is an example of Britain’s powerlessness in the world. Their strategy of being shoulder to shoulder with the US in the “war on terror” has not given them the status they so desperately desire,’ they said… ‘Britain’s economic dependence far outweighs these “individual cases.”‘

“Shaikh was arrested in September 2007 in Urumqi in far western China with four kilograms (nine pounds) of heroin, but campaigners say a criminal gang duped him into carrying the drugs. He was the first national from a European Union country to be executed in China in 50 years… China’s ambassador Fu Ying was hauled into the Foreign Office hours after the execution on Tuesday to be told of Britain’s anger, in what was described as a ‘difficult’ meeting…

“Britain has vast trade and economic ties with China, and has long underlined the need to engage closely with the emerging global powerhouse despite criticism notably of China’s human rights record… But ties have long been complicated, and tensions were highlighted at this month’s Copenhagen climate summit where environment minister Ed Miliband said China had led a group of countries that ‘hijacked’ the negotiations.

“In a commentary on the Shaikh case the Times said that Britain’s ‘diplomatic failure’ was forcing a rethink of strategy towards China. ‘After the Copenhagen debacle this month and the execution of the first citizen of a European country by China since 1951, Britain is now reassessing how to handle China diplomatically,’ it said.”

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