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Orlando ‘not as nice as Cancun’: Ted Cruz jokes about tropical trip during deadly Texas storm

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At CPAC, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) joked Friday about his widely criticized trip to Cancun, Mexico that he made during his home state’s deadly winter storm and the power and water crisis it caused last week.

“God bless CPAC,” the Texas Republican said to cheers.

“I’ve gotta say, Orlando is awesome! It’s not as nice as Cancun,” he joked, with laughs and gasps coming from the crowd.

“But it’s nice,” the senator added, laughing a bit himself.

The massive event for American conservatives, whose location was changed from Washington, D.C. to Orlando, Florida due to COVID-19 restrictions, began Friday morning with remarks from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Former President Donald Trump is set to speak on Sunday, the final day of the conference.

MORE ON CPAC: DeSantis: ‘Florida got it right and the lockdown states got it wrong’

Last week, a massive winter storm struck Texas and left millions without power and drinking water. Over 1.4 million Texans, according to The Texas Tribune, still face water disruptions of some sort as of Wednesday.

Cruz was caught on camera at an airport with his wife and 10- and 12-year-old daughters heading for the Mexican resort town of Cancun, which prompted immediate outrage at the senator for leaving his home state as millions suffered from power and water issues.

RELATED: Ted Cruz jetted to Cancun amid widespread Texas power outages

Once information about the trip became public knowledge, facing a storm of his own back home, he cut his trip short the very next day and issued a statement claiming that he was just chaperoning his daughters and their friends on a trip they wanted to the sunny beach town.

RELATED: Cruz says he was chaperoning daughters, friends on Cancun trip amid Texas power crisis

“The greatest state in the greatest country in the world has been without power. We have food lines, gas lines, and people sleeping at the neighbors’ house. Our homes are freezing and our lights are out too. Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power, too,” Cruz’s statement read.

“With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon. My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” the senator added.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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REPORT: China has vast network of covert police stations around the world

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China has a vast network of covert police stations abroad, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. These police stations serve consular functions, but are also used by China to crack down on what the CCP deems “illegal” activity of Chinese nationals abroad. The police stations include at least 38 run by the Fuzhou City police, and 22 run by the Qingtian City police. Cities housing these police stations include New York, Toronto (which has three stations), London (two), Paris (three), Buenos Aires, Rio De Janeiro, and Tokyo.

Key findings of the report are below.

“Persuaded to return”

According to China, China has “persuaded to return [to China]” 230,000 Chinese nationals living aboard from April 2021 to July 2022 alone to face charges of fraud and telecommunications fraud. A Yangxia police station set up in Mozambique, for example, persuaded a Chinese national to return to China after being accused of stealing money from his employer. Chinese authorities also put pressure on the accused family to convince the accused to surrender.

Roughly 54,000 Chinese nationals were persuaded to return from northern Myanmar alone, in the first nine months of 2021. In July 2022, the government of Wenchang City warned that its citizens living in northern Myanmar must check in with their local police stations or face multiple penalties including blocking their children from attending urban schools back in China. Similarly, in February 2022, the government of Liayang City stated that Chinese “illegally staying” in northern Myanmar must return or the bank accounts of their immediate family members could be frozen.

The Nine Forbidden Countries

China has claimed that nine countries contain serious levels of fraud and telecom fraud perpetrated by Chinese nationals. Since November 2021, China has declared that Chinese citizens living in these nine countries must return to China immediately unless they have an “emergency reason” or a “strict necessity” to travel or stay in those countries. Those countries are: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the UAE, and Turkey. However, the report questions whether these countries are truly awash in such fraud, as most of China’s oversees police stations are in the West, and only one of the nine countries (Cambodia) has such a police station. Chinese staying in the nine forbidden countries, as well as threats to family members as stated above, creates a “guilt-by-association” atmosphere intended to repatriate the Chinese nationals.

Conclusion

According to the report, Chinese police stations abroad serve to bypass “bilateral extradition treaties or other mechanisms of judicial cooperation” to cooperate with CCP-linked NGOs which effectively “[sets] up an alternative policing and judicial system within third countries.” Instead of using international judicial cooperation, which establishes due process, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial, China uses the above “persuade-to-return” methods and transnational police stations to circumvent international law and coerce Chinese nationals to return to China for trials. These policies show the power of China’s long-arm oppression over its own subjects.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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