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Embassy Row: Envoy angers China

- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Chinese Foreign Ministry this week lashed out at U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke,accusing him of meddling in China's domestic affairs after he questioned its policies toward Tibet, where Buddhist monks have been burning themselves to death to protest Chinese rule.

"We oppose any country or person interfering in China's internal affairs in any form," ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing.

He also blamed supporters of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, for "instigating and masterminding" the gruesome demonstrations.

More than 60 monks have set themselves aflame since February 2009 in the latest wave of protests in Tibet and Sichuan province. Seven have killed themselves since Oct. 20. The United States accuses China of "severe repression" of human rights in Tibet.

Mr. Locke angered the Chinese government in remarks Monday in an online forum organized by the National Committee on U.S.-Chinese Relations.

"We implore the Chinese to really meet with the representatives of the Tibetan people to address and re-examine some of the policies that have led to some of the restrictions and the violence and the self-immolation," he said.

"We have very serious concerns about the violence, of the self-immolation, that have occurred over the last several years."

Mr. Locke last month quietly visited the Sichuan area of Aba, an ethnically Tibetan region that has become a flash point in the protests against Chinese rule.

Ex-ambassador loses

A federal judge this week tossed out a case brought by a former U.S. diplomat accused of illegally accepting gifts while serving as ambassador to the Arab sultanate of Oman.

Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia ruled that Richard L. Baltimore III failed to prove that the State Department improperly disciplined him when a review board ordered that he serve a 45-day suspension for accepting an Oriental rug and expensive membership to exclusive clubs at luxury hotels in Oman.

The Office of Inspector General also found that Mr. Baltimore allowed his wife to use a U.S. government car for personal trips.

Mr. Baltimore, a career diplomat who served as a special assistant to three secretaries of state, resigned and appealed to the federal court.

Judge Bates noted that the appeal was an odd one.

"The events at issue in this case concern a rug, a car and health club membership -- hardly the usual subjects of extended federal court litigation," he said before upholding the State Department action.

Mr. Baltimore was ambassador to Oman from 2002 to 2006 after having served as consul-general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

He was a special assistant to Secretaries of State Cyrus Vance, Edmund Muskie and Alexander Haig in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Still victims

The chairman of a House human rights panel denounced violence against Gypsies in Europe as he praised Germany for erecting a monument last week to the past suffering of Gypsies.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, congratulated German Chancellor Angela Merkel for recognizing the Nazi atrocities against Gypsies, also known as Roma, in World War II.

However, he said that violence against Gypsies continues in modern Europe.

"Just a month ago, a Romani camp near Marseilles [France] was burned by a mob," said Mr. Smith, chairman of the congressional Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe. "While today provides an opportunity to remember the tragic genocide of Roma, those experiences should compel us to intensify our efforts to combat today's bigotry and acts of violence."

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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