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Thune: Trump allies engaging in ‘cancel culture’ for censuring GOP senators who voted to convict

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On Thursday, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) accused Republican politicians and activists of engaging in “cancel culture” for seeking to censure GOP senators who voted to impeach and convict former President Donald Trump.

In his first interview since he voted Saturday to acquit the former commander-in-chief, the No. 2 Senate Republican defended GOP lawmakers who sided with Democrats on the “vote of conscience” and warned against shutting out dissenting voices in the party.

“There was a strong case made,” Thune said of the Democrats’ impeachment presentation to the Associated Press. “People could come to different conclusions. If we’re going to criticize the media and the left for cancel culture, we can’t be doing that ourselves.”

Next year, the three-term senator is facing reelection in deep-red South Dakota. According to the AP, Trump loyalists are huddling to challenge Thune in 2022, which could present a bitter battle for Thune since his candidacy has gone unchallenged in past elections.

The senator only rarely criticized Trump while he was in office, as the AP noted. However, he called the former commander-in-chief’s actions after the 2020 presidential election “inexcusable” and accused him of undermining the peaceful transfer of power.

The South Dakota Republican, according to the AP, also suggested that he would be taking steps to assist candidates who “don’t go off and talk about conspiracies and that sort of thing.”

Moreover, Thune lauded GOP Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), who was censured by the Wyoming Republican Party for voting to impeach Trump, for doing an “exceptional job on most issues” and said he was ready to jump into primary battles like the one she is sure to face.

“At the grassroots level, there’s a lot of people who want to see Trump-like candidates,” Thune told the AP. “But I think we’re going to be looking for candidates that are electable.”

Like Cheney, Republican Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.) and Bill Cassidy (La.), who voted to convict Trump, were censured by their states’ Republican parties. The Pennsylvania GOP, the AP reported Monday USA Today, is reportedly planning a meeting to discuss censuring outgoing Sen. Pat Toomey for his vote to convict the former president.

During the Senate impeachment trial, Thune and other Republicans argued that Trump could not be impeached because he was no longer in office. After his vote, according to the AP, Thune said that he was concerned with the idea of “punishing a private citizen with the sole intent of disqualifying him from holding future office.”

Nonetheless, Thune indicated last week, according to The Hill, that he was open to censuring Trump before the final impeachment vote was held.

“I know there are a couple of resolutions out there […] I’ve seen a couple of resolutions at least that I think could attract some support,” Thune said to reporters at the time.

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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